Ann Arbor’s Andrew Copp headlines Red Wings’ busy first day of NHL free agency

Detroit News

Detroit — Andrew Copp is coming home.

The Ann Arbor native, who attended Skyline and University of Michigan, signed a five-year contract worth a reported $28.125 million Wednesday with the Red Wings, shortly after the start of unrestricted free agency.

“It’s not just a one- or two-year decision, it’s a five-year decision,” Copp told TSN. “I really like where this team is headed, I just want to be a part of it going forward.”

Copp was the first signing, but there were many more as the day progressed.

General manager Steve Yzerman was busy, signing forwards David Perron (two years, $9.5 million ( $4.75 million cap hit),  Dominik Kubalik (two years, $4.5 million ($2.25 cap hit) reportedly adding veteran defensemen Olli Maatta (one year, $2.25 million) and officially signing Ben Chiarot (four years, $19 million, $4.75 million cap hit).

Perron, 34, has been a veteran presence in St. Louis, last season scoring 27 goals (with 30 assists and 57 points), 11 of which came on the power play, where the Wings desperately need help.

Perron (6-foot-1, 202 pounds) was a 2007 first-round pick by St. Louis and is 27 games away from 1,000 games played in his career (973) and adds a right-handed shot the Wings have been searching for, along with some grit.

Kubalik, 27, was not tendered a qualifying contract by Chicago and became an unrestricted free agent early this week. Kubalik scored 15 goals and had 17 assists for 32 points in 78 games last season.

Kubalik (6-foot-2, 180 pounds) scored a career-high 30 goals in his rookie season three years ago, and provides the consistent goal-scoring ability that’s been lacking.

Maatta, 27, spent last season with the Los Angeles Kings, with one goal and seven assists for eight points in 66 games, with a plus-17 rating.

Copp, 28, spent six full seasons in Winnipeg before being dealt at the trade deadline last season to the New York Rangers. Copp put together a career-best season, with 21 goals and 32 assists between the two teams for 53 points (in 72 games).

Copp was especially effective with the Rangers, totaling 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) in 16 games, then adding six goals and eight assists (14 points) in 20 playoff games.

The Rangers wanted to keep Copp, but he priced himself out of their salary cap situation, and landed with his hometown Red Wings.

Before last season, Copp’s career highs were in the 2020-21 season in Winnipeg, when he had 15 goals and 24 assists.

Copp was a 2013 fourth-round selection by Winnipeg, out of Michigan.

Copp played his youth hockey at Detroit Compuware, then for the Plymouth Township-based United States National Team Development Program, before attending Michigan.

Copp was an excellent high school quarterback at Skyline where he set a state record in 2011 for passing yards in a game (557) in a 52-49 loss to Ann Arbor Pioneer.

Maatta was a 2012 first-round pick by the Pittsburgh Penguins, the 22nd pick overall. Maatta has played in 534 NHL games, with Pittsburgh, Chicago, and the last two seasons with the Kings.

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Maatta, a left-handed shot, fills a hole in that part of the lineup, as will Chiarot.

Another left-handed shot, an area the Wings wanted to address, the 31-year-old Chiarot spent last season with Montreal and Florida.

Chiarot played 74 games between the two teams, with nine goals and 17 assists for 26 points. The former 2009 fourth-round pick of the Atlanta Thrashers, Chiarot brings size at 6-foot-3, 234 pounds.

Twitter: @tkulfan

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