Photo Credit: Rena Laverty
Scouting Report written by Paul Zuk
The cream of the crop when speaking about 2022 draft-eligible players from the United States, Logan Cooley sits atop many scouts, front office, and noted draft geeks rankings. Cooley was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and played his minor hockey rising through the ranks of the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite AAA program.
Cooley popped up on several scouts’ radars when he racked up an impressive 83 points in 69 games as a member of the Penguins Elite 14U AAA team in 2018-19. Following his impressive season there, Cooley played most of the next season an age group up, earning more than a point-per-game for the 16U AAA team as a 15-year-old. His ability to stand out no matter where he plays or which age group he suits up with has followed him ever since.
Cooley joined up with the NTDP to begin the 2020-21 season, where he spent an almost equal amount of time with the U17 and U18 teams. He was able to tally 74 points in 74 games in all contests, but perhaps most impressive is his 14 points in 19 games while playing up an age group with the U18 team.
To begin his Draft-eligible season in 2021-22, Cooley has had an incredible start, racking up 38 points in 27 games with the U18’s between NTDP and USHL play. His 30 points in NTDP play ranks third on the team behind draft eligible players Isaac Howard and Jimmy Snuggerud, and his 14 goals rank second on the team, where Cutter Gauthier leads the U18’s with 16.
Cooley was selected to represent the United States at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championships in Edmonton/Red Deer, Alberta, where he and net-minder Dylan Silverstein are the only two draft eligible 2004 birth year players on the roster. Through one game in the tournament, Cooley has tallied an assist versus Slovakia. Look for him to have a very strong tournament overall, as he tries to improve his stock heading into the 2022 NHL Draft.
D.O.B – May 4, 2004
Nationality – American
Draft Eligibility – 2022
Weight –174 lbs
Position – Center
Handedness – Left
Cooley’s Style of Play
Logan Cooley’s style of play is one which every team in the NHL could use on their roster. He’s an extremely talented two-way forward, and where he may lack in size to some, he certainly more than makes up for it by playing an extremely mature game in all areas of the ice. Cooley can be trusted in every situation, regardless of how the game is playing out. His two-way game is arguably amongst the top of the class, if not already sitting atop the list.
Cooley’s able to make plays in transition and the offensive zone with ease, but he’s also able to cover off for his defenders who jump into the offensive game and get caught up ice. Additionally, Cooley is trusted to play the point as well as the right half-wall on the powerplay, which speaks to his impressive ability to not only generate dangerous offensive chances for his teammates, but also to properly execute zone exits with a high rate of success when playing the point.
Cooley’s overall hockey IQ is ridiculously impressive, as he reads the game so well in all three zones of the ice, and can anticipate where the play is currently at, as well as where it’s headed with little to no difficulty. That trait proves to be invaluable when it comes to his playmaking ability, as he’s able to deliver passes where most of the other players on the ice cannot.
For the 2022-23 season, Logan Cooley had originally announced his commitment to the University of Notre Dame. However, on February 17th 2022, the NTDP announced via their Twitter account that Cooley had de-committed from Notre Dame, and announced his commitment to the University of Minnesota. He joins fellow NTDP U18 teammates Rutger McGroarty and Sasha Pastujov in leaving Notre Dame, opting to take their talents elsewhere. Cooley will now look to focus his mind on joining a powerhouse Golden Gohpers squad for next season, which could potentially boast the likes of Chaz and Cruz Lucius, John and Luke Mittelstadt, Jimmy Snuggerud and Matthew Knies, just to name a few.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at the aspects of Logan Cooley’s game:
Arguably his best trait, Cooley is such an impressive skater. He may not be as technically sound as someone like Shane Wright, but he possesses the desired speed and acceleration most NHL teams would love to have in their top-6. Touching on the technical side, his ankle flexion and knee bend could use a little work to make his skating that much more powerful. Although, I’m sure this is something he’s working on, as his technique has improved a little bit early on this season.
Cooley’s explosiveness is perhaps his most noticeable trait when speaking about his skating ability. He’s able to make a couple of quick, powerful strides in transition, and he absolutely flies through the neutral zone and around defenders. Being only 5’10 and 174 lbs., this characteristic bodes incredibly well for his development at the next level. As we’ve seen with players such as Jonathan Marchessault and Brayden Point, the smaller, faster centers are becoming more and more dynamic in the modern-NHL. Cooley is certainly on track to be one of the next generation of talented, somewhat undersized players to eventually become household names.
Cooley’s offensive game is certainly amongst the top of the 2022 draft class not only in terms of production, but in overall talent and projection at the next level. He’s able to transition the puck into the offensive zone with ease, usually drawing one to two defenders on his person. This allows Cooley the added space to put his puck handling skills to use by dishing a pass to a teammate in an open area of the offensive zone.
Speaking of Cooley’s passing ability, it just may be the most exciting part of his game to watch, especially when he’s in the offensive zone. It is a joy to sit back and watch how frequently he can dish the puck to a teammate with a beautiful tape-to-tape pass through a heavy amount of traffic. His passes are rarely delivered without a high level of skill and accuracy, which will make pretty much any scout drool. Of course, there’s always a risk factor associated with being so creative when dishing the puck around, but with Cooley, it usually ends up being successful.
Speaking of Cooley’s transitional game from the neutral zone to the offensive zone, he seems to find the most success keeping to the outside of the defenders. He’s able to hit a couple of explosive strides and quite often beat a defender out wide with pace. At times, Cooley’s even able to dip his shoulder or give a little head-fake to the defender, cementing them in place. He is then able to turn on the jets and wheel right past, allowing for a chance in tight on net.
Lastly, Cooley’s ability to draw penalties in every zone of the ice is a trait which coaches in the NHL will love. He’s able to use his incredible balance, ability to protect the puck, and his dynamic speed in transition to frustrate opponents into taking a myriad of penalties. Whether it’s a hook, trip, hold, or simply just a retaliatory slash born from frustration, Cooley can and will make his opponents pay for their mistakes.
As mentioned above, Cooley’s defensive zone play and ability to be productive on the penalty kill make him such a versatile player. He’s able to dispossess attackers of the puck when defending the zone with his active stick and ability to leave his opponents with as little space as possible to work with.
Cooley’s teammates on Defense with the NTDP U18’s are a fairly offensive minded group. Players like Seamus Casey and Lane Hutson enjoy getting involved in the offensive zone, which leaves players like Logan Cooley to cover off for them. Cooley is excellent at covering off for his defensemen, as he’s able to hold place and defend well until his teammate is back in position.
Cooley is also quite good pinching down to assist his defensemen in their own zone when hemmed in by the attacking forwards. He’s more than willing to use his aggressiveness and physicality to muscle someone off the puck and can be quite strong on his stick to jar the puck loose from the attacker. This aspect of his game also aids his ability to retrieve pucks along the boards in the offensive zone and start the transition game, which is a strong suit of his game. Cooley is able to either deliver a pass to a teammate bursting out of the zone or get the puck off the boards/glass and out of danger, where his line can either forecheck or make a much-needed line change.
While Cooley is extremely effective when riding the half-wall or the point on the powerplay, he’s equally as effective at killing penalties. He’s seen his PK ice-time this season raised to an average of 1:14min/game and is operating at roughly a 40% success rate on shorthanded defensive zone faceoffs. Cooley is a thorn in the side of pretty much any opponent in his vicinity when he’s killing penalties, as he loves to be relentless when pressuring them into making bad decisions. This usually leads to a large amount of forced offensive zone turnovers for his opponents, which will thoroughly please many scouts who watch his game.
In the grand scheme of things, Cooley’s game doesn’t necessarily show many weaknesses. However, there’s always room for improvement unless your name is Wayne Gretzky or Connor McDavid. As mentioned above, Cooley may look to work a little bit on the technical side of his skating stride. His ankle flexion and bend in his knees could use a little bit of work to really make the most out of his explosiveness and overall quickness. However, it seems as of late he’s been working on it, as his skating looks to have improved a little bit.
In addition to his skating, Cooley may look to put on a little more size to his frame over the next couple of seasons, to really cement his status as a top-6 player moving forward. There’s zero doubt all the tools and skill is there, so if he could find a way to be just as dynamic of a player after adding twenty or so pounds onto his body, he could prove to be even more dangerous.
Although Logan Cooley’s complete game is phenomenal to watch, a few tweaks here and there to some mechanical aspects could turn him into quite the player in the next few seasons.
Logan Cooley is for sure one of the more well-rounded and talented players in the entire 2022 draft class. He certainly projects as a top-6 forward, who could play anywhere in the lineup and be able to contribute without question. Based off his play to start the season, it wouldn’t come as a shock to see Cooley’s name come off the draft board within the first 5 picks, possibly even inside the top 3. Plenty of teams will fawn over his abilities and depending on the situation he’s drafted into, that team may be able to sway his decision to forego the NCAA next season, and head straight to the NHL.
March 7, 2022
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Paul Zuk. If you would like to follow Paul on Twitter, his handle is @paulzuk_81.
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