Detroit Red Wings forward Andrew Copp is struggling to live up to expectations

Andrew Copp has been trying to make up for his lack of offense with reliable defensive play.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past two seasons, the Detroit Red Wings have made big-time moves in terms of free-agent acquisitions. At the time, one of the biggest signings was center Andrew Copp in July of 2022. As arguably the “big fish” of free agency, Copp was expected by the organization and the fanbase to come in to fill the gaping hole of second-line center and give the Wings a solid two-way player. That never seemed to materialize in the way that was expected. He now sits on the third line and has even seen some time on the fourth line on some nights, depending on how Lalonde has chosen to shuffle the lineup. 

With just under half of the 2023-2024 season remaining, this accounts for less than 1% of the team's total points, truly a disappointment from a player who was expected to be the pressure relief for captain Dylan Larkin in the center position. The offensive production, or lack thereof, has been painfully noticeable when the puck has been on his stick. Scoring chances have certainly been there for Copp, but he has been unable to capitalize on those chances. Frequently shooting directly into the goaltender'steam's chest, it's become apparent that Detroit is no longer relying on Copp to contribute in a meaningful way on the score sheet.

Detroit Red Wings Andrew Copp is trying to contribute in the bottom six despite a lack of offensive production.

The team has leaned on him for his responsible defensive play, particularly on the penalty kill. Copp remains half of the first PK unit forward tandem with counterpart J.T. Compher, who has more or less become the free agent signing that has fulfilled the role that was expected from Copp.

I would call his penalty-kill ability good but not great. For a forward who was intended to play in the top six but is not putting up points, I would like to see a great penalty killer. His faceoff win percentage (51.1%) may be what the Red Wings like most about his game and why they trust him to be on the ice in such crucial moments. Again, this is not to say that the rest of his defensive play is bad by any means. He plays the zone well and rarely makes mental mistakes. His foot speed is what hinders him from being a better penalty killer than Compher, in my opinion. When the opposition is executing cross-ice passes on the power play, it is that extra half-second that Copp takes to move into position to take the lane that holds him back from being elite.

Luckily, Detroit has been able to find offense in other players this season and can now rely on Copp to play the kind of game he excels at on the defensive side. However, if he can manage to find something within himself to add an offensive touch, that may make the five-year deal worth $28.13 million a little more palatable.

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