Future Considerations: Why the explosive Logan Cooley could win the Calder

Watch as Arizona Coyotes forward Logan Cooley shows of his body control by spinning around a Los Angeles Kings defender and finding a way to get the puck up over Phoenix Copley to give his team a 4-1 lead.

One of the favourite pastimes of writers and fans alike is to try and forecast the impact different high-end NHL draft prospects will have as they enter the league. Recently, players such as Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli, Shane Wright, and Juraj Slafkovsky have been identified, in varying degrees, as the next wave of talent about to hit the NHL.

At the 2022 NHL Draft, my final list was an outlier compared to some of my peers. In what was widely considered “The Shane Wright Draft,” he was the No. 1 rated prospect by most people. However, Logan Cooley of the U.S. National Team Development Program topped my list.

For transparency here was my final top five for the 2022 draft:

1. Logan Cooley
2. Shane Wright
3. Juraj Slafkovsky
4. Šimon Nemec
5. David Jiricek

I truly believe Cooley is an elite talent who could end up being the most productive player for the Arizona Coyotes … maybe ever.

It didn’t take long for Cooley to announce himself on the NHL stage, scoring a highlight goal in Australia over the weekend that had the hockey world buzzing. For that reason, he’s the focus in the return of my Future Considerations column, which will talk about prospect stories from in, and out, of the NHL.

Freshman NCAA season in 2022-23

Cooley hit the ground running at the University of Minnesota last season, where he scored 22 goals and 38 assists in 39 games. His potential as a top-end NHL forward was clear already. He added more strength to his frame, was more explosive out of the gates, and he didn’t back down from engaging in puck battles.

Here’s a clip of Cooley tracking back from the defensive zone, assisting with killing the play inside his blue line and then jumping up ice through the middle seam before skating in for the goal:

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Cooley wound up being a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award last season, alongside teammate Matthew Knies and eventual winner Adam Fantilli, which is awarded to the top men’s hockey player in NCAA hockey.


Originally, Cooley balked at the idea of turning pro this season and had announced in April that he was going to return to Minnesota for his sophomore season. Things changed after he attended the Coyotes development camp after the draft.

Cooley brings another layer of offence to the Coyotes. He projects as a top-line NHL scoring forward who will impact the game at even strength, the first power-play unit, 4-on-4, 3-on-3, overtime, and shootouts. He wants the puck on his stick at key times in a game. He’s a difference maker, uber-competitive and a proven winner. He makes plays that very few players have the ability to make.

Here’s an example of Cooley’s deception and vision. Notice how he freezes his opponents into thinking he is going to direct the puck on net from the flank, but instead drags the play laterally before scoring on his back hand.

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Cooley has already put the league on notice with his dazzling goal against the L.A. Kings this past weekend at the Global Series in Australia. It’s very likely the goal will stick as one of the top plays the entire season. Of course, it’s one thing to accomplish such a feat in an exhibition game and another to do it in a regular-season contest. But don’t be surprised to see similar highlight-reel plays throughout the season off Cooley’s stick.

In the coming days, analysts in our industry will start to predict award winners for the season. I’m all in on Cooley and believe he can be a Calder finalist this season for rookie of he year — he may even be able to win it. The competition will be tough, but he looks prepared and motivated.


I’m keeping a close eye on how the Calgary Flames‘ goaltending battle plays out.

Jacob Markstrom, like many of his teammates, is coming off a sub-par season and he has three more years remaining on a contract that pays $6 million per season.

Dan Vladar ended up playing 27 games for the Flames last season and his consistency ranged. But he also has term remaining; Vladar signed a two-year extension last October that kicks in this season with a $2.2 million cap hit.

Meanwhile, I’d have to scour the league to find a goalie prospect who appears more ready for the NHL than Dustin Wolf, whom the Flames drafted 214th overall in 2019. I’m not sure what else he can prove at the lower levels. He arrived in Calgary’s system fresh off winning the top goalie award in the WHL and, since that time, has been recognized as the AHL’s top goalie two years running and its most valuable player.

Wolf’s numbers last year with the Calgary Wranglers were borderline ridiculous. He was 42-10-7 with a .932 save percentage and 2.09 GAA in the AHL. The Flames could save themselves some valuable cap room if Wolf wins a job with the NHL team and they find someone willing to take on Vladar’s contract.

Wolf has one year left on his entry-level contract that pays $813,333, so he’ll become a restricted free agent after this season. However, the Flames can still send Wolf to the AHL without risking losing him on waivers, but Vladar doesn’t have the same protection. If Vladar loses out on the job and is sent down, he’d be placed on waivers and could be claimed by anyone else free of charge. I’m sure they’d prefer to get something like a draft pick.

Something to watch in Calgary as camps go on.

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