Winnipeg’s young guns, including the vaunted Kyle Connor and Nik Ehlers, are often seen as the focal points of the team’s success. Where the Jets truly excel, however, is in drafting elite depth players, particularly out of the NCAA. No skater better embodies this success than University of Michigan standout Andrew Copp. If Copp played a quietly effective role in prior seasons, than 2018-19 was his announcement ceremony. Andrew has arrived, and he may be a lot better than we hoped for.
Last year, Adam Lowry emerged as a true shutdown centre, and Copp took on that mantle this season. Andrew was a skilled skater in transition, forcing turnovers and successfully retrieving the puck in the defensive zone before leading breakouts. In the offensive zone, his smart passing and aggressive forecheck created positive scoring opportunities regularly. The 24-year old fourth liner may not have the ice-time of a top-6 forward, but it seems he may have another gear to offer.
Copp’s always been known as a more defensive forward, but his success in the opposing end of the ice suggests he has untapped offensive potential. His primary scoring rates really took flight this year, and Maurice regularly entrusted him with increased ice-time late in the season. It might be time to see if Copp can assume the mantle of 2C. With the Jets short on high-end talent in the middle, Copp could be a wonderful internal upgrade.
Next season is looking to be chaotic. With the newly-announced Trouba trade (kill me please), Winnipeg’s backline is now worse than it’s been in years. Guys like Copp will have to assume additional defensive responsibilities and handle blueline coverages in lieu of having actual NHL-caliber blueliners. Things are looking grim, but at least the Jets have found considerable depth skill to make things less painful.