Jets sign Neal Pionk and Andrew Copp
The Jets have finalized new contracts with their two remaining RFAs, signing defenseman Neal Pionk to a four-year contract with an annual cap hit of $5.87 million and forward Andrew Copp to a one-year contract with an annual cap hit of $3.64 million.
"I'm just really excited that it worked out for both sides and I'm excited to be part of the team for the next four years,” said Pionk.
“I would have liked to maybe get a few more years, but I got a good contract, I’m happy with it,” said Copp who will become an unrestricted free agent after the upcoming season.
“I’m happy with the improvements that the team made in the off-season. Obviously, a few key losses, but a few key additions as well, and we think that we’re a team that can go all the way this year.”
Part of what makes Pionk excited to be back in Winnipeg is the additions management made to the d-core, adding Brenden Dillon and Nate Schmidt to the mix.
“Making those two additions is going to be huge for us. There is a lot of possibilities. We have a great chance to win,” said Pionk. “We bolstered our blue line, we know the forward group that we have, and we have (Connor Hellebuyck) in net. I think it increases our chances to win by a lot.”
By agreeing to a new contract with the Jets, Pionk avoids arbitration which would have been held on August 13.
“I don’t think either side really wants to go to arbitration,” Pionk said. “I’ve heard it’s kind of a messy process.”
Pionk has played two of his four professional seasons with the Jets, registering 77 points in 125 games with the Jets.
Like Pionk, Copp too avoids arbitration by reaching an agreement with the Jets. His hearing was scheduled for August 26th.
"At the end of the day, I'm happy not to have to go through that process and happy that we came to an amicable negotiation that was pretty quick, actually,” said Copp.
Copp has shown an ability to move up and down the Jets lineup, being utilized in all different roles by head coach Paul Maurice. Like Pionk, Copp has liked the additions the Jets have made over the summer and sees greener grass on the horizon.
“I think we’re right there. We added two really valuable D-men that are great players in this league, different from what we have back there, too,” he said. “We’ve got a really well-rounded defensive corps now and depth back there.”
With just one year under his new deal and unrestricted free agency sitting on the other side of the fence, Copp knows how important this year is for both his personal and the team’s success.
"I feel like I've gotten better every season that I've been in the NHL, and I want this year to be the same," Copp said.
"I'm not too worried about stats or anything like that. I'm just worried about helping the team win, and hopefully just trying to prove my worth and continue to do that and continue to improve."