Detroit Red Wings: Andrew Copp not playing up to expectations

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Andrew Copp hasn’t been able to be the second-line center the Detroit Red Wings had hoped he’d be when they signed him to a five-year deal worth $28.125 million.

General manager Steve Yzerman and the Detroit Red Wings have yet to find that key second-line center to complement captain Dylan Larkin. Detroit hasn’t had that one-two punch down the middle of their lineup since Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg parted ways with the organization.

There are numerous examples to use, but when you start sifting through Stanley Cup contenders, usually you will find a team with tremendous goaltending, a top-of-the-league defender or defense pairing, combined with a one-two punch at center. For years the Detroit Red Wings were set down the middle with Steve Yzerman and Sergei Fedorov. Then it was the aforementioned Datsyuk and Zetterberg. Once a team has a stellar one-two punch down the middle, building a robust support system around them becomes more straightforward. Take Brendan Shanahan, Brett Hull, Igor Larionov, Kris Draper, Valtteri Filppula, and Jiri Hudler, for example. Among a plethora of others, you get the point.

Since then, it’s been Larkin who has found his way after a few up-and-down seasons early on in his career. The Red Wings need to get a contract extension completed with Larkin, who is a pending free agent, but Detroit also needs to find a reliable second-line scoring center.

Last season Yzerman added Pius Suter to be Detroit’s second center. Suter proved to be a capable NHL player, but he’s a far cry from an everyday second center (despite his current hot streak). This past summer, Yzerman returned to the free agent pool and signed former Michigan Wolverine Andrew Copp to fill the role. Still, his inconsistent play suggests he’d be a better third or fourth-line checking center that can play up and down the lineup as injuries occur.

Detroit Red Wings forward Andrew Copp continues to struggle.

Andrew Copp has recorded just five goals and 28 points over 56 games with the Detroit Red Wings this season. Over the last ten games, Copp has managed just two assists and nine shots on goal, averaging nearly 18 minutes of ice time. This last ten-game stretch is somewhat disappointing because Copp seemed to be getting his scoring woes solved in the ten games prior. During that span, Copp scored twice and totaled six points, raking up 18 shots on goal averaging over 18 minutes per night.

Copp was never going to be a consistent 30 or 40-goal scorer; he’s more of a two-way center that Detroit hoped would be around the 20-goal, 50-point mark. Another problem we’re seeing, Copp hasn’t exactly been the reliable defensive center we expected he’d be.

So far this season, Copp’s Relative Corsi For Percentage is -5.6 in all situations. That mark is the second worst of his career only to his rookie season back in 2015-16 with the Winnipeg Jets. This season, Copp’s Corsi For Percentage is the worst of his career at 43.1. The numbers also mirror his five-on-five play. Both figures once again suggest this is Copp’s worst season since his rookie year.

When you look at Copp’s offensive production per 60 minutes of play, things don’t improve. Copp’s 0.3 goals per 60 minutes are the worst of his career, and his 1.7 points per 60 minutes are the worst since his 1.4 mark in 2019-20.

Again, I am not saying Copp is a lost cause, but it’s become evident that the Detroit Red Wings need to find a second center over the offseason. There is a chance Marco Kasper will become that second-line center in the future, and I expect he will make the Red Wings out of camp next summer but more as the fourth center or winger to begin his career. Don’t forget; even Larkin got his feet wet in the league by playing the wing before earning the trust of his coaching staff.

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