Speaking with Andrew Copp, you would be forgiven for assuming he's a grizzled NHL veteran or at the very least a longtime coach. He speaks with a confidence and assuredness well beyond his 19 years, tossing out hard-won aphorisms -- "Consistency will come if your effort where it needs to be" -- as if they were afterthoughts.

With this maturity in mind, it's easy to see why University of Michigan coach Red Berenson named Copp, a sophomore, an alternate captain over the summer. Berenson described his sophomore center as a "gamer," a "team player" and, appropriately, someone with a "coach-type mentality."

Copp (6-foot-1, 201 pounds) has spent the fall earning his 'A' with nine goals and five assists on a Wolverines team that is 10-4-2 and ranked third in the nation. Copp also has two overtime winners, and his leadership has helped Michigan prevail in seven of nine one-goal games despite playing eight freshmen on a regular basis.

"For me it was an easy choice," Berenson said of the decision to give Copp an 'A.' "It was a stretch for some people, but for me it was an easy choice. And I would say he's more than lived up to it. He's not only doing it off the ice, he's doing it on the ice."

Copp's growth on and off the ice caught the eye of the U.S. national program. Two years ago, Copp was a fourth-line grinder with the U.S. National Team Development Program based in his hometown of Ann Arbor, Mich. This year after being included on the preliminary roster prior to the 2014 World Junior Championship, general manager Jim Johannson named Copp an alternate captain on Dec. 22.

For Copp, the U.S. alternate captaincy was the culmination of an unforgettable calendar year.

After struggling in a similar fourth-line role early in his freshman campaign, Copp got better minutes in early January and immediately started scoring. He had 19 of his 21 points in his final 22 games, finished the season as the top-line center and was named to the CCHA All-Tournament team.

"It was a combination of confidence and you just start playing instead of thinking," Copp said, downplaying his remarkable transformation.

Berenson was more effusive.

"[At the beginning] he seemed to work his way into the lineup week after week, just with his work ethic and trying to do the right thing," Berenson said. "He was on the right side of the puck defensively, he played physical and he played smart. And then in the second half, he started to get some offensive confidence. … Once he started to get some breaks offensively, you could just see his confidence with the puck grow."

On June 30, Copp was taken in the fourth round (No. 114) of the 2013 NHL Draft by the Winnipeg Jets. A few weeks later, he joined longtime friend and college teammate Jacob Trouba and 41 other Jets prospects at development camp, where Copp got his first taste of professional hockey.

Jets coordinator of player development Jimmy Roy said Copp stood out at camp for his work ethic and his focus.