One of only four players born in Yugoslavia to play in the NHL (Ivan Boldirev, Goran Bezina, and Stan Smrke being the others), Anze Kopitar is the foundation of the Los Angeles Kings' rebuilding efforts. A team that hasn't made the playoffs in six years, the Kings have had a relatively busy offseason, adding defenseman Rob Scuderi and winger Ryan Smyth to a young, talented lineup that already features Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson.
Depending on how the goaltending situation plays out, the Kings look like a team that could challenge for one of the bottom playoff spots in the Western Conference. Kopitar's numbers declined a bit this past season, but he's blessed with great size -- listed at 6-foot-4, 220-pounds -- and game-breaking talent.
Draft Year: 2005
Selected 11th overall, one spot before the Rangers took Marc Staal, Kopitar is the second-leading scorer taken in 2005, trailing only Sidney Crosby.
Why He's On My List
Taken the same year as Colorado's Paul Stastny, I debated over which one should go first in this thing. Both are great players offensively, and Stastny is the better defensive player at this point, but I went with Kopitar ahead of him for two reasons: 1) I like Kopitar's size advantage. 2) Kopitar has been the more durable player early in their respective careers.
Obligatory YouTube Video
Kopitar backhands a shot out of mid-air behind Olaf Kolzig. Besides the impressive hand-eye coordination, that's a difficult angle, as well.