Los Angeles Kings: Anze Kopitar is an MVP candidate

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 09: Anze Kopitar (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 09: Anze Kopitar (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Los Angeles Kings captain Anze Kopitar is enjoying a great start to the 2017-2018 NHL Season. Thus, Kopitar has cemented his name in MVP discussions.

The Los Angeles Kings finished a 3-1 win against the Chicago Blackhawks to go 4-0 on their most recent road trip. The Kings’ road trip performance continues the strong turnaround season leaving them sitting atop the Pacific division and second in the NHL with 37 points. On the 4-0 road trip Kopitar collected four goals and three assists giving him seven points during the Kings four wins.

Leading the Kings in their turnaround Anze Kopitar is trying to turn a career that hit a speed bump all of a sudden. In his second year as the captain, Kopitar is proving everyone wrong who wrote him off after down year the first after signing a contract extension.

Perhaps the pressure of the contract and new captaincy put too much pressure on Kopitar especially with Kings struggling throughout the season and eventually missing the playoffs. Kopitar scored just 12 goals and accumulated 52 points, his lowest output in full season during his entire career.

When the Kings dismissed both coach Darryl Sutter and general manager Dean Lombardi the new brain trust made it clear the core of the team would be relied upon to get the team back to their winning ways.

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Kopitar had the teams trust that he and players like Dustin Brown and Drew Doughty could revive the dormant franchise. All Kopitar has done this season is lead from the front showcasing his talents once again, his 14 goals have already surpassed his total from last year and his 31 points puts him in the top 10 of the league.

By picking up his game Kopitar has put himself in the MVP race, in the strictest sense of the definition it’s hard to argue that Kopitar hasn’t been the most valuable player to his team.

Kopitar has added four game-winning goals good for second in the league and on most nights quarterbacks the Kings power play and top-rated penalty killing units.

Kopitar’s game is also rubbing off on his teammates, playing on the top line Dustin Brown has also had a renaissance as he is second behind Kopitar on the team with 23 points. Kopitar and Brown have formed a partnership that has sustained the offense even with lengthy injury absences by top forwards Marian Gaborik and Jeff Carter.

If Kopitar continues his strong play he should be in the conversation for the Hart Trophy, awarded by the NHL as the league’s most valuable player. It will be difficult though since the Hart Trophy since the 1967-68 season when the NHL expanded to the west coast, the Hart Trophy has only gone to a player in the Pacific time zone three times and no Kings player has won it since Wayne Gretzky in 1989.

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If the Los Angeles Kings remain in the top tier of the best teams in the NHL, while Kopitar continues to flourish there should be no reason his name is not among the finalists for the Hart Trophy.