The Winnipeg Jets have come out of the All-star break flying. They collected five of a possible six points in the first week with their backs against the wall. They beat two very good teams in the Minnesota Wild and Nashville Predators and took the Dallas Stars to overtime.
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Before that crucial week, the Jets held a 19.2% chance to make the playoffs, according to Moneypuck.com. They’ve since raised their playoff chances to 23.8%. As a team, they are starting to find an identity and are winning games because of it.
Unfortunately for the Jets, it may be too late. They currently sit seven points outside of a playoff spot in the Western Conference, which may prompt Kevin Cheveldayoff to make some trades at the deadline. Andrew Copp is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in the upcoming offseason, and having gone to arbitration twice in contract negotiations, this is likely his last season in a Jets uniform.
Copp is a versatile, 27-year-old winger who is on pace to post career-highs in goals, assists, and points. There will certainly be a market for the two-way winger, who is on an affordable contract of just $3.64 million for the remainder of this season. In this article, I will take a look at three possible trade destinations for Copp and outline what the Jets could get in return.
Among these possible destinations, I will be focusing my attention more on teams that are viewed as Stanley Cup contenders. The Bruins fit the mold as a fit for Copp. The Bruins are projected to be in the market for a second-line center, as they’ll need to upgrade in that position to compete with the elite center depth showcased throughout their division.
They are the best team in the NHL in terms of expected goals against, with 76.43 allowed throughout the season. Adding Copp’s versatility and penalty-killing abilities would arguably make them the best defensive team in the NHL.
Jake DeBrusk has publicly requested a trade and could be one of the pieces returning to the Jets if a trade was made. DeBrusk has recorded 15 points in 41 games this year but is looking for a bigger role elsewhere. He is a pending restricted free agent, allowing the Jets to retain him past this season.
The Bruins have a relatively weak prospect pool but are equipped with first, second, and third-round picks for at least the next three years. If DeBrusk were to be excluded, look for them to gladly move off those picks for Copp’s abilities.
New York Rangers
One of the better fits for Copp is the New York Rangers. Despite their 30-13-4 record, they hold a minus-16.2 expected goal differential, which is bottom-five across the entire NHL. A winger with Copp’s two-way abilities would help in a major way.
The Rangers have yet to get the production they expected from young wingers Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko. Acquiring Copp would allow those wingers to play a more sheltered, specialized role as they navigate their push to win the division.
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Along with their second-round pick, the Rangers also have the St. Louis Blues’ 2022 second-rounder. If a trade were to be made, look for that extra pick to be a factor. A second-round pick and a prospect would likely get the deal done. Regarding prospects possibly being involved in the deal, look for Brett Berard, a 19-year-old winger who currently has 33 points in 30 games for Providence College, or Braden Schneider, a 20-year-old defenceman for the Hartford Wolf Pack who projects to be a solid two-way defender in the NHL.
The Rangers having a much stronger prospect group than the Bruins makes the possibility of Copp joining the Blueshirts higher because they can outbid the other teams in a similar situation.
The Colorado Avalanche have a penalty killing problem.
If there’s anything that you could nitpick from the best team in the NHL with a record of 34-8-4, it’s the fact that their penalty kill ranks 21st in the NHL at 77.8%. Copp would immediately kill penalties for them and be a significant factor in what is arguably the Avalanche’s biggest issue.
Given that they are the most talented team of the three I have discussed, the Avalanche would have the most to offer in a proven NHL player swap. 23-year-old Tyson Jost would benefit from a change of scenery, and the Avalanche would likely be willing to move him along with one other player in a deal. Oskar Olausson was their first-round pick in 2021, and the 19-year-old winger is projected to one day be an effective top-nine scorer. He would likely be expendable if packaged with a low pick or depth forward as the Avalanche gear up for a Stanley Cup Final run.
Copp is the Jets’ best moveable asset at this year’s trade deadline. Pair that with their unlikely road to the playoffs, and it would be foolish for them not to recoup any assets in the process. Unless the Jets fight their way near a playoff spot by the March 21 trade deadline, they will be looking to sell assets and retool for next season where they likely have the same core in place as the one they currently have, based on contract structure.