The Detroit Red Wings have signed versatile forward Andrew Copp to a five-year contract with an average annual value of $5.625 million.
Copp Heads from Big Apple to Back Home
Copp was most recently a member of the New York Rangers, joining them for their Stanley Cup push. The Rangers acquired him from the Winnipeg Jets at the 2022 Trade Deadline and the 28-year-old was a key contributor down the stretch, recording eight goals and 10 assists in just 16 games and playing on the second line.
The undrafted American — who played 467 games with the Jets over eight seasons since making his debut in 2014-15 — also notched six goals and eight assists in 20 playoff games as the Rangers reached the Eastern Conference Final after finishing second in the Metropolitan Division but fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games.
“The 6-foot-1, 206-pounder slipped seamlessly into a tight-knit lineup and dressing room after being acquired March 21,” THW’s own Tom Castro wrote last week. “A natural center, he easily moved to the right side with center Ryan Strome and left wing Artemi Panarin and excelled.”
Copp Cashes In On Increased Offensive Output
Copp has rightfully parlayed his increased offensive production that began two seasons ago into the longest contract and biggest payday of his career.
He was primarily a defensively-minded forward and bottom-six faceoff speciality earlier in his career, but has really broken out offensively since 2020-21 and has blossomed into a top-six threat. In his coming-out 2020-21 campaign, he recorded career highs in goals (15) and assists (24) despite the season being shortened.
The Jets, in a cap crunch last offseason, wanted to sign Copp to a long-term deal but could not afford to, instead inking him to a one-year contract with the idea of using him as an “in-house” rental. Copp continued to produce nicely, but the Jets underachieved and were not likely to make the postseason by the time the Trade Deadline rolled around, so they flipped him for promising forward Morgan Barron, a 2022 second-round pick, and a conditional 2022 second-round pick which became a first rounder due to the Rangers making the Eastern Conference Final and Copp playing in more than half of the first two round’s games.
That was a premium price, and certainly looks like an overpay now considering the Rangers both did not win the Cup and could not re-sign him despite a strong push from GM Chris Drury.
Copp Joins Red Wings’ Rebuild
Copp will join a Red Wings team in the midst of a rebuild. They missed the playoffs last season for the sixth straight campaign, but are lurching toward respectability and GM Steve Yzerman has amassed a number of promising young prospects.
One of the Red Wings’ biggest needs this free agency was a top-six forward, and Yzerman has given newly-minted head coach Derek Lalonde just that in Copp, who hails from nearby Ann Arbor, Michigan. He should be a key contributor in all areas, including the power play and penalty kill; don’t be surprised if he easily sets a career-high in ice time in 2022-23.
You can bet that Yzerman, Lalonde, and Red Wings fans are ecstatic to have Copp — a responsible two-way player who has never forgotten his defensive responsibilities despite adding more offence to his game — in the fold through 2026-27, a period in which the team should continue to improve.
Check out THW’s 2022 Free Agent Signing Tracker for up-to-date news on all player signings during NHL Free Agency.
Declan Schroeder is a 27-year-old communications specialist and freelance journalist in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He holds a diploma in Creative Communications with a major in journalism from Red River College and a bachelors in Rhetoric and Communications from the University of Winnipeg.
Deeply rooted in the city’s hockey culture, the original Jets skipped town when he was two and the 2.0 version came onto the scene when he was 17.