Copp looking for $2.9M in arbitration and how that would fit into the cap

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - DECEMBER 01: Andrew Copp #9 of the Winnipeg Jets celebrates a goal in the third period against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on December 01, 2018 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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We now know where both sides stand.

A report by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said restricted free agent Andrew Copp, whose arbitration date is set for Sunday, is looking for a one-year deal worth $2.9 million. The Jets, meanwhile, have offered a two-year deal worth $1.5 million per annum.

This is standard fare. The player picks one year, the team chooses two and if it gets to arbitration, the result will be two years, because the player elected to file first. The determined value of the contract, if it reaches an arbitrator, is often split down the middle. In this case, that would be in the $2.2 million range.

If it gets there, of course. The two sides can still hash out a deal before Sunday’s meeting, but that looks unlikely after the Sun’s Ken Wiebe reported that Copp’s agent Kurt Overhardt said, “We are going to arbitration and look forward to it.”

Copp’s role could very well expand this season, perhaps right into the team’s second-line centre if head coach Paul Maurice so chooses. Copp has shown a good ability to drive possession and said he grew more and more comfortable at the position in the second half of last season.

And he’s versatile, with the ability to play on the wing and thrives up and down the lineup. There’s no reason to believe he wouldn’t run away with an expanded role and could offer Patrik Laine the centre he doesn’t yet have in Winnipeg.

General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff is working with a wallet that has tight constraints attached to it.

The Jets have nearly $23 million in cap space, which seems like a lot at first glance.

It’s, of course, deceiving, given that Laine, Kyle Connor and Copp are all still unsigned, along with Neal Pionk, who has his arbitration case set for next Wednesday. They also have to factor in ELC bonuses and leave some wiggle room for injuries.

Even with those guys signed, the Jets would be at a roster of 18 players (minimum is 20, but they would carry at least 22), meaning they’d have to add at least four more bodies. Laine and Connor, alone, could eat up a significant chunk of that perhaps in the $15 million to $17 million range depending on the deals that are struck. It might also mean bridging at least one of the players.

Either way, it’s going to be tight.

Let’s say, for the purpose of an experiment, that Copp gets $2.2 million and Pionk gets in the $2 million range — a $1 million bump from his entry-level deal.

At that point, you take $4.2 million off the $23 million the Jets have to play with (rounding up slightly here for clarity.) The Jets now have 17 players on the roster.

That leaves you with $18.8 million or so to sign Laine, Connor and at least three other players while leaving some wiggle room.

If Kristian Vesalainen plays, he makes just under $900,000. Mason Appleton would make roughly $750,000 and let’s add Andrei Chibisov at just shy of $800,000 to cover off those three players. We’re now looking at another $2.4 million taken off that $18.8 million so roughly $16.4 million left to pay Connor and Laine, who would get the team to 22 players on the roster.

No one said it would be easy.

sbilleck@postmedia.com

Twitter: @scottbilleck

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