Andrew Copp is the first player to earn an arbitration ruling this year, following his hearing on Sunday. The arbitrator has awarded a two-year contract carrying an average annual value of $2.28MM. The Winnipeg Jets decided on the length and were looking for a $1.5MM AAV, while Copp filed for $2.9MM. Read our breakdown of the case right here. Copp will still be a restricted free agent at the end of the deal.
While the deal is a reasonable amount for the 25-year old Copp, it takes just another chunk out of a Winnipeg payroll that has to find a way to fit in new contracts for Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor. They’re now sitting at just under $17.6MM in cap space for a roster of 17 players, which means long-term deals may not be possible depending on the asking price of their star RFAs. That cap crunch limited their ability to spend in free agency, meaning Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers and Ben Chiarot have all departed their blue line without many replacements coming in. Neal Pionk, Sami Niku and others will have to fill those roles.
This decision is also the final arbitration case that the Jets had, meaning a short buyout window will open in three days. The team could potentially buyout a player that has a cap hit of more than $3.45MM and was on their reserve list at the most recent trade deadline. There aren’t any names that stand out as candidates, though the team may obviously have different plans. Other names like Mathieu Perreault have been bandied about in trade speculation, though Kevin Cheveldayoff is one of the league’s most infrequent traders, completing just 36 in the near eight years he has been on the job.