The past couple of seasons have seen Anze Kopitar rise the ranks to become a premier player in the National Hockey League. Now what the Los Angeles Kings forward needs is a bit of validation, other than that Stanley Cup, of course.
Kopitar has been a consistent performer the past few years, but he hasn’t gotten much buzz as far as postseason awards go. His health hasn’t helped his case though, especially with a brutal ankle injury back in 2010-2011.
But this year could be different. Kopitar is an established player among the league’s elite. He knows how to put the puck in the net and should be among the league’s top point getters this season. However, the award I’m thinking of for Kopitar isn’t offensively focused.
Where Kopitar doesn’t get nearly enough credit is for his defensive play. As far as two-way forwards go, he’s among the best. And he may be ready to back it up with some hardware next season.
There aren’t exactly a wealth of candidates out there for the Selke Trophy. Two-way forwards as strong as Kopitar are a rare breed. The likes of Pavel Datsyuk, Ryan Kelser, and Jonathan Toews will likely be involved, but it’s not a big crowd vying for the award.
Now could be Kopitar’s time to swoop in and grab it. His defensive play is strong, and he plays just as well in his own zone as he does in the offensive zone. He wins faceoffs, to the tune of 54 percent in over 1,400 draws last year.
Kopitar’s style of play fits the bill as the type of guy that could win the award as the league’s best two-way forward. He may not take home the honor this year, but I completely expect Kopitar to make some noise for the Selke Trophy in 2012-2013.