NHL Notebook: LA Kings sign Anze Kopitar to two-year extension, the worst contracts signed in free agency, and more

Edmonton Oilers Los Angeles Kings
Photo credit:Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
11 months ago
The LA Kings have signed their captain to a two-year contract extension.
The deal, paying Anze Kopitar $7-million per year, will kick in after this season running through the 2025-26 campaign. Drafted by the Kings 11th overall in the 2005 draft, Kopitar has spent his entire 17-year NHL career in LA.
Here’s more, from Daily Faceoff’s Steven Ellis.
According to Cap Friendly, Kopitar’s deal will have a $775,000 base salary in the first year with $6.225 million in bonuses available. His second year will be $7 million in just base salary, with a no-movement clause for both years.
“Los Angeles has become home for me and my family, and I’m excited to extend my career here,” Kopitar said in a team release. “I’ve been with this organization through it all and I know our group is close to achieving something special. I look forward to helping us reach that next level and achieving the ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup again.”
Kopitar is by far the most successful player out of Slovenia, and has experience at six IIHF men’s World Hockey Championships and various other events at different levels. Kopitar also was captain of Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, leading the team to a second-place finish.


Bad contracts everywhere

Death, taxes and bad contracts signed in free agency.
This year was no different as NHL GM’s handed out term and money like nothing. Over at Daily Faceoff, Scott Maxwell took a look at some of the worst contracts signed in free agency — a number of which by teams in the Pacific Division.
Here’s a few of those.
Ivan Barbashev, Vegas Golden Knights ($5 million x 5 years) – I highlighted Barbashev in my buyer beware article last month, and while I do think the contract is a bit lengthy and bit pricey, my biggest concern was that he plays better on the wing than down the middle. By re-signing with Vegas, he likely avoids that because they’re set down the middle with Jack Eichel, William Karlsson, Chandler Stephenson, and Nicholas Roy, with all but Stephenson signed for at least the next three seasons. And if Barbashev’s contract does become a problem, we know Vegas will have no issue moving on from it.
Pierre Engvall, Scott Mayfield, & Semyon Varlamov, New York Islanders
Pierre Engvall: Seven years, $3 million AAV, 16-team no-trade clause
Scott Mayfield: Seven years, $3.5 million AAV, Full no-trade clause 2023-24 to 2026-27, 16-team no-trade clause 2027-28 to 2029-30
Semyon Varlamov: Four years, $2.75 million AAV, Full no-trade clause first two years, 16-team no-trade clause final two years
There’s another team that has multiple entries on here, but I decided to group this trio of signings by the Islanders because they all share one thing in common: too much term. I always remember a Steve Simmons tweet of him thinking back to something Lou Lamoriello once complained about with most big contracts and how it’s always too much money and too much term, and it’s ironic because Lamoriello is one of the worst for giving out too much money for too much term, and this is a fantastic example of the latter.
Radko Gudas, Anaheim Ducks
Three years, $4 million AAV, Full no-trade clause year 1, 16-team no-trade clause year 2, 10-team no-trade clause year 3
When Gudas signed his three-year deal with the Florida Panthers in 2020, I remember it being something that drew a couple red flags, mostly just due to the term, the fact that he was 30, and his physical style of play being something that could cause his game to fall off a cliff very quickly. I ended up being wrong, as he was quite solid throughout the deal, but now he’s three years older and his body has more miles on it, so giving him term again is a bit risky. Not only did the Ducks give him the same term as the Panthers did, he also got a $1.5 million raise on top of that.
He’ll certainly add a steady presence on their defense and essentially replaces Kevin Shattenkirk as the veteran on the blueline, but that’s still a steep price for Gudas. If you’re going to overpay for a physical stay-at-home defenseman, Gudas is one of the few that actually brings the play to back it up, but at his age it could get bad in a hurry.
It certainly doesn’t help a rebuilding team in the Ducks either when he’s going to essentially block a roster spot for the numerous defensive prospects in Anaheim, especially when that cap hit is going to complicate things even more when their young players get off their entry-level contracts and the Ducks can’t afford all of them.
Alex Killorn, Anaheim Ducks
Four years, $6.25 million AAV, Full no-trade clause first two years, 15-team no-trade clause final two years
This contract had the second-largest cap hit among non-extension contracts this summer, and… it just doesn’t really make sense to me. I get why; hockey teams can’t help themselves from drooling all over experienced veterans, and he is coming off a career year. But I figured both his age and the fact that he was playing alongside Steven Stamkos and Anthony Cirelli for most of the past two seasons was going to scare some teams off, so he was maybe going to end up with an overpayment on either term or money on this deal, but I was not expecting both.
Killorn is an excellent player, but it’s also quite clear that the traits that made his market value as high as $6.25 million were partially a product of his environment. I like Trevor Zegras as much as the next guy, but he is no Stamkos or Nikita Kucherov or Brayden Point right now, so you likely aren’t going to get that same level of success that he got in Tampa Bay.

Vigneault steps away

Former NHL head coach Alain Vigneault has announced his retirement from coaching in the NHL.
Vigneault confirmed the news to Journal de Quebec, telling the outlet his time behind the bench was done.
Here’s more from Daily Faceoff’s Anthony Trudeau on the 10th-winningest coach in NHL history.
“I think it’s time to enjoy life,” Vigneault said. “I had a great career. Hockey has been good for me and my family.”
Vigneault left his fourth and most recent coaching stop when the Philadelphia Flyers dismissed him in December 2021.
Though the wheels fell off for Vigneault in Philadelphia after a wretched 2020-2021 season and a poor start to 2021-2022, he had moments with the Orange and Black. In 2019-2020, ‘AV’ finished first runner-up for the Jack Adams Award and led the Flyers to the Eastern Conference’s top seed after the abridged regular season.
Before his mixed returns in Philadelphia, Vigneault, who played 42 NHL games for the St. Louis Blues as a defenseman, became a beloved figure at the helm of the Vancouver Canucks and New York Rangers.
After debuting as an NHL coach for a poor Montreal Canadiens team from 1997 until 2000, Vigneault would take over the Canucks and become the team’s winningest coach in short order.
Vignealt’s Canucks, led by the Sedin brothers, scrappy defenseman Kevin Bieksa, and goaltender Roberto Luongo, rode a combination of skill and defensive responsibility to the postseason in six of Vigneault’s seven seasons in British Columbia. In 2011 they took the Boston Bruins to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.
After consecutive playoff disappointments led to Vigneault’s firing in Vancouver, he was out of work for less than a month before heading to Madison Square Garden to coach the Rangers in 2013.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.

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