The Winnipeg Jets are preparing to face a pair of former members of their squad, including forward Andrew Copp.
The Winnipeg Jets will face off against not only one but now two familiar faces on Tuesday evening in New York. Having dealt Jacob Trouba to the Rangers for Neal Pionk and a draft pick which turned out to be Ville Heinola back in 2020, the team has since moved forward Andrew Copp to The Big Apple.
Sending Copp to New York in exchange for two second-round picks and forward prospect Morgan Barron, the Jets – who are no longer expected to qualify for the postseason – will be in town to visit their old friend for a battle on Broadway on Tuesday.
“Weird,” Copp said when asked by New York media what it felt like to prepare to play against his old mates. “I’m seeing a bunch of the guys for dinner tonight. I don’t know, I think you can prepare for it all that you want to, but once you get onto the ice tomorrow for warmup and see them, it’s going to be a little weird.”
Copp, who has fit in more than perfectly alongside star forward Artemi Panarin, has produced five goals and 13 points in 13 games with the Rangers since his March 21 trade.
“Some of the success has obviously been very good, production-wise especially,” Copp said. “But at the same time, I feel like my game can kind of, is meant to, I can kind of play with whoever in any situation and be successful and make the guys around me better. I feel like that’s kind of what’s been my calling card in my career in how I play the game and it’s kind of shown so far. In Winnipeg, I changed lines almost every game, so playing with new guys wasn’t necessarily a new thing for me. Comfortability in that role has led to some success here, for sure.”
The versatile forward is clearly missed in Winnipeg, as well. With the team having only won six of its past 13 games since Copp left town, his defensive mindset and offensive flair have certainly left a hole in Winnipeg’s middle-six.
“Obviously, I miss him a lot around here,” former linemate Adam Lowry said on Monday. “A bunch of us are going for dinner with him and Troubs tonight. It will be good to see him in the big city. I know he enjoyed his time here and he’s really enjoying his time in New York. Obviously, they’ve been on a pretty good run and they’re poised to make a deep playoff run. We’re excited for him. It’s going to be different going up against him rather than having him on my wing. I look forward to seeing him in the circle and I look forward to battling against him.”
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According to Lowry’s father, Copp’s former head coach, New York has been a good fit for the 27-year-old.
“We’ve seen a guy that’s been given a good opportunity and has taken advantage of it,” coach Lowry said. “He’s playing in the same situations with the Rangers as he was here. We talked about it every day, Copper is a very versatile guy and a very good player. He seems to have fit in in New York.”
The Blueshirts seem to like him as well. New York, which is tied with Carolina for first in the Metropolitan Division, has seen Copp operated at a point-per-game rate over his first month of service – something even his new coach was not expecting to see.
“Maybe a little bit,” Gerard Gallant responded New York media asking about his expectations on Copp. “I expected him to be a good, solid player. He’s playing with some pretty skilled guys there, so he’s probably getting a few more points than I thought he would, but I like what he’s bringing to our team. He’s good for the PK, he’s playing on the second PP unit and definitely that line has been better. I like the way that he plays an overall game. He’s scored some big goals for us and made some good plays. I really like him.”
One player who has followed a very similar path to that of Copp is Jacob Trouba. The two have actually spent the past 27 days living together, as Trouba hosted Copp at his New York home while the newcomer found a place to reside. Facing off against his former Jets already, Trouba said he won’t have a problem battling Winnipeg on Tuesday, but Copp may experience some emotions at the face-off circle.
“For me, I guess it was my first time. Spent a lot of your time and good chunk of your life there. I think for him it will be, for me, I’ve played a couple times now so it won’t be a big deal.”
#NHLJets trade forward Andrew Copp to the New York Rangers.
Copper told me last month for the @GameOnHockey cover story that he has ‘essentially’ followed Jacob Trouba’s career trajectory every stop along the way.
Well, once again, he has found his old Compuware AAA teammate.
— Carter Brooks (@CBrooksie84) March 21, 2022
“The past years he played lower in the lineup, or at least in Winnipeg he played on that third line or even sometimes the fourth line, and he’s got a chance to play with really good players now and make plays,” Trouba said of the skillset of his long-time friend. “He’s a really good hockey player and it’s been fun watching him and Bread, kind of two different worlds of mine collide. It’s pretty fun for me. So no, I’m not surprised at all.”
With first place on the line, Copp knows his team will need to be dialed in for Tuesday’s contest, despite the ranking of their opponent. Often looking on the positive side, Copp actually gave his former teammates credit, indicating the Jets’ potential to still find a way to sneak into the playoffs.
“They’re going to be desperate,” he said. “I think there’s six games left and they need to win all six, I believe. So they’re coming off a tough loss in Tampa. They’re a good team, they’ve got skill up and down the lineup, they’ve got good D, they got a great goalie. They’re not going to go away into the night easily. They’re going to push. They got a lot of good players. Expect them to be desperate.”
Puck drop is set for 6:00 PM central time on Tuesday from Madison Square Garden.
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