LOS ANGELES (AP) -Anze Kopitar has signed a seven-year extension with the Los Angeles Kings, putting the 21-year-old center under contract through the 2015-16 season.
The seven-year deal is the second-longest in club history. Wayne Gretzky, the NHL's career leader in several categories, signed an eight-year deal in 1988. The contract was extended from seven to nine years after the first year.
Kopitar is the latest player to receive a new contract from the Kings. Forward Dustin Brown signed a six-year agreement last year, and forwards Jarret Stoll (four years) and Patrick O'Sullivan (three years) also recently agreed to deals.
"Anze is a special player, but he has also shown a strong work ethic and the type of character we believe is necessary to help shape the core of our team," general manager Dean Lombardi said in a statement Saturday. "Along with some of our other young core players, the commitment Kopitar has shown at a young age should continue to improve and elevate his teammates and the franchise."
Kopitar and the Kings were scheduled to open the season Saturday night in San Jose. Kopitar was an All-Star last season - his third with Los Angeles - and was voted the team's most valuable player by the local media.
"This is really exciting and a little overwhelming to be honest," Kopitar said. "I am happy to be a part of this organization for the next eight years. I can focus now on hockey only and on doing what I want to do, which is to bring the Stanley Cup to L.A.
"I am also excited to remain with a great group of players who have gotten the same commitment from our organization. We are looking forward to growing together and to building something special here."
Kopitar led the Kings with a career-high 77 points last year, getting 32 goals and 45 assists while playing in all 82 games. He was the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL entry draft and made his NHL debut on Oct. 6, 2006, scoring two goals at Anaheim. He also became the first player from Slovenia to play in the NHL.
Kopitar, who has one year left on his current deal, has 52 goals and 86 assists in 154 games. He was recently named an assistant captain by coach Terry Murray.