#3: Anze Kopitar – L.A. Kings
Anze (ahn-zheh) Kopitar has gained notoriety in the NHL not only for the pitch-black tinted visor he’s been modeling for nearly two decades as a player, but also for the unyielding defense and ruthless tenacity he plays with on the ice.
In his 17 years playing on the biggest stage hockey has to offer, all with the Los Angeles Kings, the 6’3″ – 230 lbs power forward has literally made a living off of shutting down the best players in the NHL by any means necessary.
Anze Kopitar has earned a reputation as one of the best defenders at the center position as a result of never shying away from the shooting or passing lanes of his opponents. Like all players in the craft of blocking shots, Kopitar takes pride in the bruises he wakes up to in the morning and comes in to work the next day asking for more.
This is the mentality of a true center. If there’s a meat grinder unfolding in the corners or on the half boards, Anze Kopitar will be right in the middle of it and more often than not, will come away with the puck.
In addition to stellar defensive and physical attributes, Kopitar is no stranger to putting the puck in the net and feeding his teammates with dishes to rack up the points. Apart from leading all of the forwards on the L.A. Kings in takeaways (46), blocked shots (87), and faceoff win percentage (55.9%) in the 2022-23 NHL regular season, he also led the team in total points (74).
When it comes to being a true 1st line center in the NHL, Anze Kopitar may be the most well-rounded man for the job. Everything he does is given 100% maximum effort and every puck battle or faceoff lost (and it doesn’t happen often), is responded to with a vengeful effort to regain control of the situation. Kopitar is a true leader, a true grinder, and a top three true center in today’s NHL.