The true Winnipeg Jets fan knows the worth of Andrew Copp. The rest of the hockey world may not. The 27-year-old forward is entering his seventh full NHL season, all with the Jets and has put himself in a position to be a key ingredient in the team’s success and push in the Central Division. A defensively sound player when he entered the league, this past season he put his North Division opponents on notice, that he too can be an offensive threat to be taken seriously.
“Coming in as a guy who is nearly defensively perfect in his first year right? That’s unusual. You don’t see a lot of guys transition beyond that… Andrew figured out that if he could go out and play a nearly perfect defensive game that I would play him on that alone… and then eventually the offence would come.” – Winnipeg Jets Head Coach Paul Maurice, Press Conference (27/9/21).
When asked where Copp’s offensive surge came from, Maurice suggested he’s worked hard individually in the offseason to improve his hand and foot speed, but from his perspective, since he has gained the coaches trust on the ice, he’s been able to play Copp with more offensive players, thus getting him more opportunities. His shots on goal would verify this statement as he went from under a shot on goal per game in his early years with the Jets to over two shots per game. That’s in itself is an indication he is finding himself in better offensive situations, thus putting up bigger numbers.
Copp’s Numbers Don’t Lie
Since his initial season in the NHL, he has been a consistent performer on the ice averaging about a point every three games. That was until last year. In the shortened 2020-21 season, Copp popped 15 goals added 24 assists for 39 points (all career highs) in only 55 games. That translates to a 58 point season. Now toss those numbers in with a bump to the second line, and there’s no reason to think his totals won’t go beyond the 58 point mark, and as some suggest, into the point-per-game range.
The buzz in Manitoba’s capital is that Copp will find himself on a line with Pierre-Luc Dubois and Nikolaj Ehlers, two very offensively established players, who Copp will compliment very well. His stats will also be the beneficiary of the extra offence, extra time on the ice, and should find himself on the second power-play unit that he’s been added to over the past two seasons. Not a bad situation he’s worked to place himself in, considering he will be an unrestricted free agent next season who could be looking at a big pay increase from the current $3.640 million he’s earning this season.
The evidence shows that his numbers are going to continue to increase. Not sure you’ll see another four-goal game like he had against the Vancouver Canucks last March, but you will see a veteran who has earned his way into the upper echelon of scorers amongst the Jets’ forwards.
This gives the Jets two incredibly strong lines to deal with upfront. Mark Scheifele between wingers Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor is the Jets’ most noticeable trio. But a line of Ehlers, Dubois and Copp would run a very tight second giving the Jets a potent one-two punch when it comes to lighting the lamp. The three blend well, then add their speed and size to the mix and this could be the unit that could cause their opposition fits. Ehlers is coming off of helping Denmark qualify for its first Olympic Games where he was their star, and Dubois is having a great camp and bouncing back from what was an off season for him. Copp’s improved skillset and offensive output from last season only bodes well for the Jets giving them six forwards who are legitimately possible point per game threats. That is a lot of scoring.
This team should be fun to watch this season, and in Monday’s press conference Copp said there is an air of confidence in the dressing room. How they feel about themselves, the direction the team is headed and the new additions to the team. Confidence breeds success and with Copp asserting himself as a top-six forward and a player Maurice can fully trust, look for him to be someone that not only Jets fans know and love, but the rest of the league takes notice of as well.
Keith Forsyth is a freelance writer and sports junkie from rural Manitoba who is covering the Winnipeg Jets for The Hockey Writers. Keith loves all sports and is a huge fan of the NFL (Skol Vikings… if you know, you know) and the Montreal Expos (they’re coming back… you watch!). He recently retired from the education world teaching high school, where his greatest passion was coaching young athletes. He brings that same logical, behind the bench type of approach to you as he delivers an insightful look into the NHL and specifically the Jets. For interview requests or content info, follow Keith on Twitter or his social media accounts. They appear under his photo on articles like this one.