This is another year where we’re likely to see the U.S. National Team Development Program (NTDP) well represented in the first round of the draft, and the first name to pulled from there is center Logan Cooley.
It was a successful season for him by all counts—it saw him scoring at a 1.48 points per game pace during the regular season, put up 10 points in six games at the U18s, and be the youngest player selected for the US World Junior team. It was a productive year, and quite impressive, and his stock’s been rising steadily. He’s one of the most exciting prospects in this year’s draft, he’ll be a great asset to some NHL team down the line, but in the meantime, he’s going to be a really fun addition to an already very good University of Minnesota team next season.
BSH 2022 Community Draft Board, No. 3: Logan Cooley
Team: US National U18 Team (USDP), USNTDP Juniors (USHL)
Statistics: 27 G, 48 A, in 51 GP (USDP) and 13 G, 23 A, in 24 GP (USHL)
No. 2 (NA skaters) by NHL Central Scouting
No. 2 by McKenzie/TSN (midseason)
No. 3 by Dobber Prospects (April)
No. 4 by Wheeler/The Athletic (midseason)
What’s there to like?
As you may have guessed from just his scoring output that we just mentioned, Cooley has a very impressive offensive toolkit. He’s a very strong offensive driver, in terms of the raw volume of chances he creates, but particularly in the volume of dangerous chances. He’s extremely creative with the puck, and his vision is excellent. This all makes him a very good problem solver, and the way he’s able to find (or create!) space to hit teammates with a clean pass is really remarkable. His teammates really have to always be ready to receive the puck from him, because he’s going to find that space much more often than not. There’s no panic in his game (occasionally to a fault, but more on that later). He’s patient, and strong enough on the puck that he can skate around and buy himself a bit more time if need be.
He’s also excellent at transitioning the puck up-ice with control (indeed, we’d like to see him taking on even more responsibility to do that, he’s so good at it), and a big asset to that, on top of his vision and tenacity, is his skating. He’s overall a very strong skater, with a smooth stride when moving North-South, but his small area skating also really pops. His agility is great and his ability to make quick cuts and pivot in tight really stand out as well. And on top of all that, he also has a nice separation gear—he isn’t going to be absolutely everyone, but he can create some space, to be sure.
What’s not to like?
Cooley is so gifted on the offensive side of the game, but the defensive side is where the most room for improvement lies. Now, to be clear, we wouldn't say that he’s a poor defensive player, and we don’t have any big concerns that he’ll never be able to develop this part of his game, so that’s good, but he’s still a little raw, as it stands.
In particular, he can get himself into a bit of trouble by overhandling the puck or overcommitting to a play, or skating into too much pressure, but it’s not because he can’t find another option, it’s because he’s trying to make something interesting happen. So more than anything else he has to learn to choose his spots a bit more. but it’s never for lack of trying. We (meaning I) also saw him struggling a bit in challenging older and stronger players in some of the NTDP’s games against NCAA teams, which makes sense in a way, but it’s still
How would he fit in the Flyers’ system?
For what the Flyers are trying to bolster in their system here—adding more speed and high-end skill, particularly up front—Cooley fits that bill perfectly, and that would pretty quickly vault him to the top of their prospect depth chart. He gives them a boost in the raw speed department, but perhaps even more importantly, he plays with pace, and that’s something the Flyers are pretty sorely missing. He also brings perhaps the most exciting offensive toolkit of the very top of this prospect group, in terms of dynamic skill and creativity, and that’s something that’s pretty hard not to be dazzled by. He isn’t a pure shooter (and that might be a disappointment for some sections of the fanbase), but he’s such a creative offensive driver, and he just makes things happen. That makes the Flyers better, full stop.
Could the Flyers actually get him?
This is a tough one. Most likely Cooley is off the board by the time the Flyers pick at five, but there’s a chance he could fall. Say Wright and Slafkovsky go first and second, then a couple of teams get a bit scared off by him as a smaller player, or go for position rather than best available, Simon Nemec could easily jump him. If it feels like we're doing a galaxy brain thing here, you’re right. Cooley is probably the second-to-fourth best player available in this draft, which would put him just out of the Flyers’ reach. But hey, if something crazy does happen and he falls, he’d be an exciting one to scoop up.
We’ll make one addition to the poll:
Ivan Miroshnichenko — LW Omsk Krylia (VHL) — 10 G, 6 A, in 31 GP
Miroshnichenko is a player with all the attributes you want in a top NHL winger. He’s got good size and strength. He’s a strong skater. He’s highly skilled. He can make plays and he’s highly competitive. His shot is a bullet and can be a weapon from the flank on a pro power play. He can beat defenders with speed, he can put pucks through legs, he can create at evens and on the power play. He has a bulky frame and can play a powerful style of game. He projects as a top line winger. - Corey Pronman, The Athletic
Who should be no. 6 on the 2022 BSH Community Draft Board?
This poll is closed
2022 BSH Community Draft Board
1. Shane Wright — C, Kingston (OHL)
2. Juraj Slafkovský — LW, TPS (Liiga)
3. Logan Cooley — C, NTDP (USDP/USHL)