The US National Team Development Program is a prestigious hockey program. They’ve developed the likes of Jack Hughes, Auston Matthews, Patrick Kane, Jack Eichel, and more recently, Matt Beniers. This draft class, there are several high-end prospects. Leading the pack in the early stages of the year is Logan Cooley.
Can Logan Cooley Challenge Shane Wright for First Overall?
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on May 4th, 2004, the 17-year-old Cooley has had a hot start for the USNTDP. Ranking 3rd in my rankings in mid-November, Cooley has been ranked all across the top-15 among other ranking sites. He’s been ranked 2nd (Craig Button), 5th (Smaht Scouting), 6th (Bob McKenzie and Dobber Prospects), 7th (Recruit Scouting), 8th (McKeen’s Hockey), 12th (FC Hockey), and 14th (Draft Prospects Hockey).
Early Dominance at 14 years old
Playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite 14U AAA team, Cooley scored 44 goals and 39 assists for 83 points in 69 total games, showing his future potential early on. At 15, playing for the Penguins elite 15U and 16U teams, he scored a combined 25 goals and 33 assists for 58 points in 53 games, transitioning up well against tougher competition. At 16, he joined the U17 USNTDP team, scoring 16 goals and assists for 32 points in 28 games. He earned a look with the U18 team, scoring four goals and 10 assists for 14 points in 19 games. Cooley earned an additional 27 games in the USHL, scoring 15 goals and 13 assists for 28 points. At 16, those are impressive numbers.
Joining the U18 and USHL programs full-time
So far this season, Cooley has played 15 USDP games, with nine goals and 11 assists for 20 points. Additionally, he has played five USHL contests with two goals and four assists for six points. He’s looked really good production-wise to start. He’s committed to the University of Notre Dame for the 2022-23 season.
Logan Cooley Scouting Report
Logan Cooley has, as evidenced, been great at every level he has played at to this point. He may not have dominated quite like Shane Wright has, but he has been climbing up the ranks, closing the gap for that top pick. Why is that?
Logan Cooley’s high-end skating ability
Similar to Wright, Cooley is a very good skater. Cooley’s technical ability needs a bit of work, as his ankle and knee bend could be tweaked a bit, but he is a speedy skater with strong acceleration and edge work. Standing at 5’10” and 174 pounds, it’s important for him to be quick. His short-area burst is even more important as he looks to break into the NHL.
Logan Cooley’s speed is even more apparent in transition, which will be touched on later, as he can burn defenders around the outside. His balance is also high-end, as he can cut to the low slot effectively while fending off defenders in the process. While he still needs to bulk up, his lower-body strength is already really good for a guy of his structure.
Dual-Threat Offensive Skills
Logan Cooley can beat you in a variety of ways. He can slow the game down and speed it up as he pleases, keeping defenders guessing. Cooley has a really high-end IQ, so he times his passes well and doesn’t look off very many chances. His passes are quick and accurate, and if a defender makes the first move, he will read and react quickly enough to make the defender look foolish.
In three games tracked at the USHL level, Cooley attempted 61 passes in the offensive zone, completing 57 of them (93.44% passing accuracy). The biggest takeaway from this is his percentage of passes aimed at high-danger areas (9.84%) being much lower than Wright’s (23.64%). Cooley loves working the puck around and possessing the puck, rather than looking for the back-door, cross-ice passes. However, when he does attempt high-danger passes, he makes them count, completing 83.33%.
Logan Cooley’s Shooting Ability
When it comes to his shot, Cooley does not disappoint in the slightest. His power and accuracy behind his shots are among the best in the class, right up there with Wright. Pair that with his deadly quick release, and you have a guy with 20 goal potential. The problem, however, is his shot selection. As mentioned above, Logan Cooley never looks off a pass and loves moving the puck around. The problem with that is, he never really shoots the puck.
In total, across those three tracked games, Cooley fired 18 shots, with 15 hitting the net (83.33% accuracy). Of those 18 attempts, 10 came from high-danger (55.55%). That is a crazy mark, but it paints a concerning picture. As mentioned, he looks off clear shooting lanes for a pass. Ultimately, he only fires the puck towards the net when he finds himself in a high-danger area. At his size, that style may have trouble translating to the NHL level. Ultimately, Cooley should work on firing more shots from distance when those opportunities are given to him. He has the shooting ability to make teams pay.
Logan Cooley’s Transitional Abilities
Arguably this writer’s favourite aspect of Cooley’s game is his transitional abilities. He has great stickhandling ability, high-end IQ, high-end skating, and excellent vision with the puck. Through those three tracked games, Cooley successfully entered the offensive zone with possession on 69.44% of the total entries he directly influenced. Possessional entries include passing the puck to a teammate or skating it in himself, and of his 25 successful entries, 17 were done with him skating it in himself. That’s a staple of his game. It’s even more apparent in his zone exit numbers.
Across those same three games, Cooley was directly involved in 12 zone exit attempts, clearing the puck with possession on 58.33% of them. All seven of his successful exits were done by him skating it out himself.
Defensive Zone Play
Cooley’s defensive zone play is, at least for now, overlooked. As the season pushes on and we near the NHL draft, that will change. His anticipation and high-end hockey IQ allow him to force turnovers and quickly transition up the ice. Additionally, he is almost always in the right spots, supporting the defence down low and helping defend the slot. Cooley possesses an active stick as well and paired with his short-area quickness and acceleration, makes him very difficult to beat one-on-one.
Part of defensive zone play is forechecking and backchecking. Logan Cooley is incredibly efficient at forcing turnovers through the forecheck. He attacks with his speed and smarts along with his anticipation and active stick and harasses opponents. Countless times he took the puck away clean or forced an errant pass that was taken away by a teammate. However, Cooley doesn’t always backcheck effectively. He doesn’t always skate full speed to get back, oftentimes gliding once he hits the red line. Additionally, there are times where Cooley cheats up the ice for offence. Those things can be improved with NHL coaching and experience in time, so it should not be a concern.
What is Logan Cooley’s Potential?
Logan Cooley is a supremely talented 200-foot forward. He plays a dual-threat offensive game paired with tenacity and smarts. His already strong skating glues his entire game together. Finally, his advanced defensive game for his age is just the cherry on top. That said, Logan Cooley looks like a future number one center with 20+ goals and 60+ point upside. His ceiling is also safe, looking like he could end up as, at the least, a third-line center with 10+ goals and about 30 points.
A stylistic comparison that makes sense for Cooley is Conor Garland. Garland plays that tenacious style, attacking the slot with consistency and efficiency. That said, if things go well with his development, he likely ends up a better player than Garland, but only time will tell.