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Revisiting the Winnipeg Jets Andrew Copp trade just over 2 years later

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Photo credit:© Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Connor Baldwin
16 days ago
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It’s another day closer to the official beginning of the NHL off-season, and today I was browsing through the Winnipeg Jets trade history over the past few seasons. I didn’t have a particular reason for doing so, but I stumbled upon a trade from 2 years ago that had me surprised about the return that the Jets ended up acquiring. It was one of those trade deadline deals where the initial return was seen as surprisingly good, but it was also one that involved multiple draft picks. Fast forward 2+ years later, and the Andrew Copp trade to the New York Rangers on March 21st, 2022 is looking like it could very well end up being a steal of a deal.
As I was looking into the details of this trade, I noticed that there was another article here on Jets Nation that was looking at this Andrew Copp trade one month after it happened. In the article, it mentioned how 2022 was a year where teams got big returns on players who were deemed as on the “trading block”. Copp was an unrestricted free agent at the end of that season, and given that Copp was on pace for a career year, it made sense for the Jets to move him, due to his projected big increase in his next contract price.
Before I look at the return the Jets received from dealing Copp, it’s important to mention how Copp has faired after the trade. The Rangers likely acquired Copp as a “rental” piece for their playoff run in 2021-22, and Copp played his part both in the regular season and the playoffs. In 16 regular season games, Copp scored 8 goals and added 10 assists for 18 points. In the playoffs, Copp scored 6 goals and had 8 assists for 14 points in 20 games. Copp signed a 5 year, 28.1 million dollar deal on July 13th, 2022 with the Detroit Red Wings, and has had 2 fairly successful seasons with the Wings so far.
As for the players and picks that the Jets acquired in this trade, well, you have to give some credit to the Jets for the players they selected with these draft picks. Now in the post-season of 2023-24, where the details of the trade are fully known, the Jets acquired Morgan Barron, a 2022 1st round pick (which became Brad Lambert), a 2022 2nd round pick (which became Elias Salomonsson) and a 2023 5th round pick (which became Thomas Milic). Simply put, Barron and the 3 prospects could all end up being solid contributors to the Jets in the near future.
Starting with Morgan Barron, who is still only 25 years old. Barron has been a versatile bottom 6 forward for the Jets over the past few seasons. In my Jets Nation year in review on Barron, the main thing I talked about was how Barron will be most effective when he learns to understand whatever role he’s given. For a former 6th round pick, Barron has grown into a reliable everyday NHLer who will continue to play his part on the Jets in the near future.
The next player acquired in this trade (who the Jets selected with the 2022 1st round pick) is Brad Lambert. The Jets have a few exciting prospects who will ready to join the Jets very soon, and Lambert is certainly someone to watch as soon as next season. Lambert has all the tools to live up to his 1st round potential, and we even got a glimpse of what he can bring when he made his NHL debut in game number 82 of the 2023-24 season.
The other two players acquired in the Andrew Copp trade, which I didn’t realize came from this trade, were Elias Salomonsson and Thomas Milic. Salmonsson has quickly become one of the most intriguing and exciting prospects in the Jets organization, and could very well end up “exceeding” his original scouting report projections. Some fans think that Salomonsson could see his first NHL action next season, but it’s likely that it’ll be a little longer before Salomonsson steps into the NHL with the Jets.
Last but not least, the 5th round pick in 2023 ended up being Canadian goaltender Thomas Milic. You may remember Milic from his performance in the World Juniors in 2022-23, and 1 year later Milic is coming off a successful 1st pro season split between the ECHL and AHL. Goalies always seem to have an interesting development path, but Milic seems to be on track to be an NHL backup as early as 2 years from now. Next season, look for Milic to have a strong chance at being the starting goalie for the Manitoba Moose in the AHL. Something about former Canadian World Junior goaltenders seems to always have me remember their names, and Milic is one who will hopefully be Hellebuyck’s backup sooner than later.
26 months later, the Andrew Copp trade is looking like it’s going to be very rewarding for the Jets. We know all the pieces of the trade now, it’s just a matter of waiting a few years to see how these young players develop as they enter a full time position in the NHL. Who knows, you might even see a Jets team that includes Barron, Lambert, Salomonsson and Milic one day, which would truly mean the Jets won this trade big time. Whatever ends up happening though, this is a Jets trade that surprised me when I looked back at the return, and one that I’ll continue to track in terms of the prospects that will look to soon make an impact on the Jets in the near future.

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