(Buffalo) On paper, Logan Cooley is listed at 5’10” and 174 lbs. So we were expecting a relatively puny young man (for a hockey player), but it was more of a boned kid that appeared for the interview, in the lobby of a downtown hotel.
“There are guys who still grow into their 20s. I’m hoping to take an inch or two and get to 6′, but Patrick Kane is still dominant and he’s 5’10! “, He remembers.
The mention of Kane is interesting. Fifteen years ago, the forward became the sixth American to be named first in the National League draft. There have been two more since then, Auston Matthews and Jack Hughes, and now Cooley hopes to add to that shortlist. NHL Central Scouting lists it as 2me In the ranks of the North American hopefuls, Cooley evolves in the center, where the Canadian needs help and the team considers him interesting enough to invite him to dinner this Thursday night.
What if we had, sitting in front of us, the player around whom the Canadian will try to orchestrate his recovery?
A product of the penguins.
It was in Pittsburgh, on Sidney Crosby’s land, that Cooley’s journey began. The Penguins have had an equipment donation program for several years to introduce children to hockey, and it was through this program that Cooley obtained his first skates.
“I was on the ice with Sidney Crosby, he remembers, still in disbelief. But I was 5 years old, I don’t have many memories! I knew who he was, but I was so young I was just trying to keep my balance on my roller skates. »
The stories of the top draft picks are often those of players who have flown through the competition their entire lives, who have been the best wherever they’ve been. Not Coolie.
Whether with the Penguins Elite (his minor hockey organization) or the US National Development Program, Cooley was never the best forward on his team, at least not until the season just ended.
Another example: in December 2019, the firm International Scouting Services published its list of the 10 best hopes for the 2022 draft. A list dominated by Shane Wright, but where Logan Cooley’s name does not appear.
“He wouldn’t have even been in the top 50 at that time! his agent, Brian Bartlett, reacts. He always had the intelligence, the work habits, and the talent, but he was small. Even in the national development program, he was maybe the fourth or fifth striker on the team.
“So he’s shown steady progress since then. That explains why people think his potential is greater than Wright’s. Wright has always been viewed as the best prospect his age. He does not have the same type of progression. Logan worked hard. »
What has become of him, in the course of this progression? A forward seen by many as the most dynamic of the 2022 crop. Cooley may be a supporter of the Washington Capitals, admires Crosby, and tries to take inspiration from him in certain aspects of his game.
I think I’m pretty good in tight spaces, around corners, and in the back of the territory.
Cooley is aware, however, that he still needs to grow if he wants to excel in the NHL. That’s why he says he’s ready to spend next season at the University of Minnesota.
“I want to play in the NHL as soon as possible, but I also want to make an impact. It can be difficult for a player who arrives young, especially in the games abroad. If I need a year in college to grow and gain muscle, that’s fine. But if a team wants me right away, it would be better. It will depend on what happens in the draft. »
dinner with the Canadiana
Cooley’s name comes up from time to time when it comes to players who are likely to go out in 1Ahem a row on July 7. Nevertheless, it serves as a negligee.
As an indication, the Elite-Prospect site lists the rankings of 13 hopefuls, from NHL Central Scouting to analysts like Bob McKenzie, Craig Button, and Sam Cosentino. Neither puts Cooley at the 1Ahem range; all but one classify it as 2me or 3me.
Except Cooley is on the Canadian’s radar, one of 15 teams that interviewed him this week at the hopefuls evaluation camp. And it’s not just because he was once a teammate of Jack Hughes, Kent’s son. “I know Jack pretty well, but I never knew Kent,” he told us Tuesday. Our meeting took place a few minutes before said interview.
“You know Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes, they’re pretty accessible guys,” Brian Bartlett recalled Wednesday. Logan and the people at Canadiens described the meeting to me as a good, flowing conversation. »
A conversation that will continue this Thursday, at dinner, without Kent Hughes, however, since he left Buffalo. For Cooley, it will be the second team arm meal this week. The Arizona Coyotes, who aren’t fussy about spending despite playing the next three seasons in a neighborhood ballpark, also invited him Tuesday. they have all 3me options.
What should we interpret from this invitation? A simple strategy to shuffle the cards? A precautionary meeting if ever the Canadian gets an irresistible offer to drop a rank or two?
“We should not exaggerate the scope of these dinners, warns Brian Bartlett. The Canadiens are having some players over for dinner this week, and Logan is having dinner with some teams. You know, these people have to eat somehow. You might as well find an excuse to put that in the company expense allowance! »
a lost hope
A team that recruits an established player in a European league usually has four years to reach an agreement with him, before losing its negotiating rights. Wednesday was therefore the deadline for the 2018 draft hopes. The Canadian thus officially lost the rights to Jacob Olofsson, a forward the team had claimed in the 2me round (56me in total) in 2018. Olofsson has 6 points from 25 games in the Swedish top division this season and has made 20 appearances in the second division. The Canadian therefore loses the rights to a contender for the round of 16 for the second consecutive year, after Joni Ikonen (58me range in 2017) last year. This is not an ideal outcome for an organization. But in the Canadian’s defense, this 2018 draft doesn’t seem like the depth at the e moment. Only four players drafted after Olofsson have reached 50 games in the NHL so far.
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