“He’s everything we covet as a King,” Mike Futa, L.A.’s director of hockey operations, said Monday of ongoing contract talks with the star centre. “It’s too close to not get it done.
“We’ll find a way to get it done.”
Futa joined Hockey Central at Noon to discuss his Pacific Division–leading club’s seven-game winning streak, during which Kopitar has scored three goals and been a plus-8 stud.
"Anytime we write out our core and what has made up successful, the first name we write down is our C1, Number 11," Futa said.
"Kopi's done extremely well. He's just an amazing person as well as a great player. We're obviously working through it. He wants to stay here; we want him to stay here. Sometimes negotiations take a little longer than you like."
Futa's positive tone should widen the smile on Kings fans' faces. Considering the two-way superstar has lasted four months without an extension — the sides were permitted to strike a new deal on July 1 — there would be reason for some concern.
Kopitar, 28, is in the seventh and final year of a $47.6-million pact that carries a $6.8 million salary cap hit.
A long-term extension can max out at eight seasons and should see Kopitar supplant defenceman Drew Doughty ($7 million cap hit) as the most handsomely paid King.
Back on Sept. 1, Kings general manager Dean Lombardi told reporter Jon Rosen that the parties were “not even in the ballpark” when it comes to reaching a new deal, but the player has maintained optimistic, at least publicly, throughout negotiations.
“I’d like to stay an L.A. King, and I’m pretty sure the Kings would like me to come back," Kopitar told Sportsnet in Spetember.
"We’ll see. We’ll work on it. The talks are still ongoing, just maybe on a little bit of a slower pace than everybody expected.”