Andrew Copp's rookie year saw him play in 77 games and stay with the Winnipeg Jets throughout the whole season. When given the opportunity, the former Michigan Wolverine showed that he can be a reliable bottom-six player with offensive upside.
Towards the end of the year, Copp was bumped up from his 4th line role with Chris Thorburn and Matt Halischuk to a line alongside Joel Armia and Nic Petan. During this time, Copp started playing upwards of 10 minutes TOI per night, and with the increased opportunity came increased production. The result was a strong finish to the year, with 5 points in his last 6 contests. As per Corsica Hockey, his final totals were:
Copp is a reliable player in his own zone and he showed that in every role he was placed in by Paul Maurice. However, for most of the year he was buried on the team's fourth line and given limited opportunity to show his offensive capabilities. It's hard to show what you can do when playing 3-7 minutes a night with Anthony Peluso, Matt Halischuk and/or Chris Thorburn on your wings.
Towards the end of the year, Copp showed that he deserves to get a better look higher in the line-up. The impression Copp left at the end of the year was promising, but nothing is guaranteed heading into training camp next season. The fall will feature increased competition for spots, primarily from skaters in their early twenties. This could lead to a young player we saw on this year's roster being reassigned to the Manitoba Moose for 2016-17.
Could it be Copp?
If the Jets win the draft lottery and get Auston Matthews, there is a good chance that Copp might be sent to the AHL. It's a matter of numbers. He'd be competing with Adam Lowry for a fourth line role, a role in which Lowry likely has the edge due to size and physicality.
In this case, a reassignment might be wise. Copp would be better suited developing in the American Hockey League with a scoring role, rather than being in and out of the press box. Otherwise, it's hard to see a scenario where Copp is bumped from the Jets lineup.
It's hard to really establish what Andrew Copp's role will be with the Winnipeg Jets down the road. The Jets could reach a point where they have to choose between Adam Lowry and Andrew Copp. Both likely translate to third line centre at the NHL level, and it could make more sense to trade one and have the fourth line centre occupied by an inexpensive veteran.
Might Copp and Lowry coexist in the lineup for years to come? It's not out of the question at all. While Lowry had a down year this season, he did see time on the top line during training camp. He has the potential to become a top-six player and if he does that, the Jets could move Bryan Little to the wing. Little scored 30 goals on the wing with the Atlanta Thrashers in 2008-09.
If the Jets were bundling up picks and prospects for a trade, they would probably not be too hesitant to throw in Copp if need be. He has the upside to be a steady third line centre and at best possibly a second line centre, but with the current makeup of the Jets roster and the players they have in the system, it's hard to guarantee he will have a spot.