Copp Trade Looking Better for Jets Thanks to Rangers’ Playoff Success

The Andrew Copp trade is looking better for the Winnipeg Jets than it initially did thanks to the New York Rangers’ playoff success.

Rangers Advance Past Round 2; Second-Rounder in Trade Upgrades to First

Many Jets fans were temporary Blueshirts boosters over the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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When Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff dealt forward Andrew Copp to the Big Apple at the Trade Deadline, the Jets received, among other assets, a conditional second-round pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. The condition was that if the Rangers advanced to the Eastern Conference Final — with Copp appearing in at least half of their playoff games — the second-round pick would become a first-round pick.

Related: Jets’ Trade Deadline a Success Thanks to Cheveldayoff’s Logical Moves

The Rangers did just that on Monday, defeating the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 7 of their second-round matchup to advance to the final four. Copp has been a force through the first half of the postseason, playing a top-six role and recording six goals and six assists for 12 points in 14 games.

A late-first rounder (somewhere between 29th and 32nd overall, depending on where the Rangers end up) is a huge upgrade over the late-second rounder the Jets would have gotten if the Rangers had bowed out early.

Cheveldayoff will now make two first-round selections on July 7 in Montreal, as he also has his own pick (the 14th-overall selection.)

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The conditional second-rounder was one of two draft picks in the deal. The Jets also received a conditional second-round selection and they’ll have to choose between the St. Louis Blues’ 2022 second-rounder owned by the Rangers or the Rangers’ 2023 second-rounder.

Barron Makes the Deal Seem Sweeter

Getting a first-round pick is a nice development, of course. But an even nicer development is how well Morgan Barron — the young forward also included in the Copp package — performed after joining the Jets.

Barron, 23, is a 6-foot-4, 220-pounder who showed off a power-forward-esque skill-set in 14 games, where he recorded two goals and two assists while playing on a couple of different lines.

The 2017 sixth-round selection of the Rangers was a monster for the Manitoba Moose in the Calder Cup Playoffs, scoring four goals and recording two assists in the five-game series the Moose lost to the Milwaukee Admirals.

Barron can do a little of everything and should challenge for a roster spot next season. Given the right opportunity under a new head coach, he could develop into a strong player who brings the Jets much-needed grit, identity, and secondary scoring touch.

Did Cheveldayoff Get Lucky?

One could argue that a first-rounder, a second-rounder, and Barron is a heck of a return for the pending UFA Copp, who Cheveldayoff likely wouldn’t have be able to sign long-term anyway.

But one could also argue that Cheveldayoff was guilty of asset mismanagement last summer — mismanagement that eventually made the trade a necessity — and got lucky with the Rangers going as deep as they did.

Andrew Copp Winnipeg Jets
One could argue that the only reason the Jets had to trade Copp at all was because Cheveldayoff’s priorities were skewed last summer. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Cheveldayoff prioritized the blue line last summer, inheriting Brenden Dillon’s and Nate Schmidt’s rich contracts in separate trades and re-signing Neal Pionk to a four-year deal.

That left no cap space to sign Copp to a long-term deal despite Copp’s expressed interest in staying in Winnipeg for the long haul. Copp, who was coming off a career season, ended up signing a one-year deal but the plan to use him as an “in-house rental” for an expected Stanley Cup run went off the rails as the Jets underachieved and were on the outside looking in by the deadline.

This Could be a Trade That Works Out For Both Sides

The trade that works out for all parties is a mythical thing, akin to a unicorn or a jackalope. Usually, the best part of Deadline Day swaps is to debate in the years to follow about “who won.”

Both teams might be end up winners in this case. Copp, as he did with the Jets over the past two season, has shown the Rangers he’s a compelling top-six option, recording 18 points in 16 regular-season games down the stretch and dominating in the playoffs. If the Rangers can win the Stanley Cup with Copp being a key contributor and/or can sign him long-term this summer, what they sent the Jets will have been worth it.

Andrew Copp New York Rangers
Andrew Copp, New York Rangers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

If the Jets get a couple of promising prospects for their retool and Barron continues on an upward trajectory, what they sent the Rangers will have been worth it, too.