Andrew Copp will be a key to New York Rangers playoff success
The New York Rangers trade deadline acquisition of Andrew Copp from the Winnipeg Jets did not get the same press that the Florida Panthers did when they acquired Claude Giroux from the Philadelphia Flyers.
Granted, Giroux is by far the more decorated and heralded player but Copp has been a great fit for the Rangers and at half the price.
I’ll take it as far as to say that the Rangers key to playoff success will be directly impacted by Copp.
Andrew Copp was a steal for the Rangers
The Panthers were considered legitimate Cup contenders before they took a big swing to land Giroux. Adding him was just gluttony in the eyes of most, but that’s what you do when you are close to winning a Cup.
Giroux was acquired for Owen Tippett, a 1st-round pick in 2024, and a 3rd-round pick in 2023. Florida did get some other pieces back, but they paid a heavy price to get the Flyers to retain 50% of his remaining salary to make the cap work.
Meanwhile, Copp was acquired for a song.
The Rangers sent prospect forward Morgan Barron to the Jets along with two conditional 2nd-round picks, and a 2023 5th-round pick in 2023. One of the conditional second rounders can become a first if the team makes it to the Eastern Conference Final and Copp plays in half those games.
In 10 games for the Panthers, Giroux has 2 goals and 11 points. Copp in 10 games has 4 goals and 11 points.
Drilling down deeper, half of Copp’s goals are game-winners. Furthermore, 10 of his 11 points have come at even strength. Which addressed a concern for the Rangers heading towards the postseason of only being able to score on the power play.
“I try and excel in every way I can,” Copp told MSG’s John Giannone. “Versatility playing center, wing, face-offs, special teams both sides, and play strong defensively. Just try and do a little of everything and make the players better around me.”
New York Rangers are a much better team now
When you look at the Rangers, even before the trade deadline, it was clear they were a good team that had elite goaltending with Igor Shesterkin.
Anyone who refuses to admit that the team was basically buoyed by Shesterkin to start the season is only lying to themselves.
Factoring in superstars Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, and Adam Fox to drive the offense made them an early favorite for surprise team of the year.
However, the Rangers were top heavy and not well balanced. Having the NHL’s #2 power play will help cover up that issue. Especially with the magical season Chris Kreider is having putting pucks in the back of the net.
Of course, they added necessary grit with Barclay Goodrow and Ryan Reaves in the summer, but injuries to Kaapo Kakko and Sammy Blais showed they needed more depth on all four lines.
Chris Drury went out and got that with Frank Vatrano, Tyler Motte (now injured) and Copp by the NHL Trade Deadline.
All of that is why this team is in a position to grab first place in the Metropolitan Division with just 9 games to go.
Andrew Copp could be an x-factor for the Rangers
Let’s lay the cards out on the table, the Rangers are going to go as far as their stars take them. That starts first and foremost with Shesterkin in goal.
But if you want to win the Stanley Cup, you can’t do it with your stars alone. Just look at the defending Stanley Cup Champion Lightning. They needed players like Goodrow, Blake Coleman, and Pat Maroon to get them over the top.
That’s who Andrew Copp is for the Rangers– their x-factor.
“He’s been in that role his whole career of never being complacent and settling for what he has,” Jacob Trouba said of Copp. “As a friend, that’s good to see and the kind of guys you want in your locker room. He has that attitude and work ethic about him. He’s someone you want on your team.”
Vatrano may be on the first line, but you could easily swap him with Kakko and I believe there would be very little difference. Take Copp out of the top six and I see a major drop-off.
Copp’s addition balances the lineup. A legitimate and seasoned top six player to play with Panarin and Ryan Strome. His ability to play center and kill penalties is another big reason why he’s going to be a key to the Rangers playoff success.
“It seems like there’s a lot of belief. We feel like we are a really good team, so really good teams can come back in games like that,” Copp said after scoring the tying tally in a three-goal third period comeback against the Flyers in early April.
“Even though we didn’t get the extra point at the end, I think the confidence gained from the way we played the last two periods and to be able to come back from something like that is going to happen in the playoffs for sure.”
It’s that kind of talk which shows Copp understands what postseason hockey is all about. He’s just the type of player a team needs when the game is on the line and when it matters most.
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