To be clear, Kopitar hasn't *officially* signed his extension with the Kings as of this moment. He is expected to do so very soon, though. From a few days ago:
So, how does this impact the Lightning? All summer long people were pointing at the Jonathan Toews/Patrick Kane deals as benchmarks for the Stamkos negotiations, so I think the Kopitar contract can serve the same purpose. The Kopitar extension, according to that piece from The Score, is expected to be in the neighborhood of $9.75-million per season; Toews and Kane, for their part, signed identical deals that pay them an average of $10.5-million each per year.Report: Anze Kopitar 'very close' to massive 8-year extension with Kings. https://t.co/XJ8Gk8pMU9 pic.twitter.com/dXTPlecWoi— theScore (@theScore) December 18, 2015
On Twitter, perhaps the biggest surprise to me was how a great many people were using the Kopitar contract to suggest that Stamkos deserves/is going to want $12-million per season. To paraphrase, there was a great deal of talk that sounded like this: "If that Kopitar guy is worth $9.75-million per season, Stamkos must be worth the moon!!!!!"
First of all, I think that severely discounts what Kopitar brings to the Los Angeles Kings on a nightly basis. Here's some "real talk" courtesy of Rhys Jessop, one of the many bright hockey minds on Twitter:
Yeah, Kopitar is good. Even if you disagree with the mini ranking Rhys has compiled there, the fact of the matter is that the conversation he's starting isn't so ludicrous that we're laughing it out the door. Kopitar isn't some lesser hockey player who the Stamkos camp can point to and say: "We deserve way more than that guy!" Instead, he's one of the best out there:Real talk: Anze Kopitar is the player many people think Jonathan Toews is, and is far better at hockey than Steven Stamkos.— Rhys Jessop (@Thats_Offside) December 10, 2015
So, if Stamkos decides that he wants $12-million per season, that's all fine and dandy. Maybe he'll be able to find some team out there willing to take that (ridiculously overvalued) plunge, but it's hard to imagine that it will be the Lightning or any other team with competent management. The reality for the Lightning Captain is that there is exactly no precedent in the league for a deal carrying an average annual value of $12-million. Consider that Patrick Kane, as mentioned, is earning $10.5-million per season. Kane leads the league in scoring right now, and has been at least a point per game player in all but one season since 2009-10. Should Stamkos, a guy whose value (much like Kane's) stems from his offensive contributions, be making more than the league's offensive leader? It's a tough position to justify, even if you're firmly in the pro-Stamkos camp.Friedman: "If you ask players out there, 'Who's the best (C in the West)?' A lot of them will pick (Kopitar) or Toews." #LAKings #Blackhawks— Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) December 16, 2015
With all this in mind, my question is quite simple. Knowing that Kopitar is close to signing an eight-year deal worth $9.75-million per with the Los Angeles Kings, would you hand an identical contract to Stamkos? Do you think it's fair value, or are you still walking away at that price? Let me know in the comments section and respond to this poll:
My personal belief is that a Kopitar-like contract is what Stamkos deserves. Guys who can score goals like he can are incredibly rare in today's National Hockey League and should be compensated as such. I'm not one of those people who thinks he's not worth a big deal. I'm not one of those people who thinks he's not vitally important to this Lightning squad. I just want any contract extension to stay in the realm of reasonability; a contract that matches Kopitar's reported deal would do just that.
Thanks for reading!