Second on the list of arbitration hearings scheduled for this summer is Andrew Copp of the Winnipeg Jets. The two sides exchanged figures prior to their hearing on Sunday, and according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet the player filed for a one-year deal at $2.9MM while the team is looking for a two-year contract at $1.5MM. In this case the team gets to choose the length of the award because Copp was the one who filed for arbitration. It is important to remember that not only can the two sides still negotiate a different deal in the time remaining (and even for a short period after the hearing), the arbitration decision also does not need to be one salary or the other. The award can (and usually does) fall somewhere in the middle of the submitted figures.
Copp only just turned 25 a few days ago, meaning he will be a restricted free agent at the end of even a two-year contract. The fourth-round pick has developed into a valuable depth piece for the Jets even if his offense still hasn’t progressed very far. Scoring 11 goals and 25 points in 69 games last season was the best rate of his NHL career, but his real worth lies on the penalty kill and in the corners where he is a strong possession player.
The question will be how the Jets can afford to keep him as a fourth-line player if he receives a decision anywhere near the $2.9MM he filed for. Though they still have nearly $23MM in cap room, Winnipeg has contracts still to sign with Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine which should likely total more than $15MM combined. That $23MM disappears fast given it is only based on a 15-player roster at the moment, and Neal Pionk is also due for an arbitration hearing next week. The Jets find themselves in real trouble after losing three key players from their blue line and will need a youngster like Jack Roslovic or Kristian Vesalainen to give them some real value on an entry-level deal.