PLYMOUTH, Michigan — Logan Cooley said he can’t wait to play for the United States at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championships in Edmonton August 9-20, the start of a season that will continue at the University of Minnesota and could conclude with the Arizona Coyotes .
“I feel really good,” the 18-year-old center said at the National Junior Evaluation Camp at the USA Hockey Arena last week. “My skills feel sharp. Skating feels good. I don’t feel tired at all. I feel ready to go.”
Cooley has had a hectic few months and he’s only just getting started.
He had one assist in a 3-2 win against Slovakia in the preliminary round on December 26, the United States’ only game before the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship was canceled on December 29 due to coronavirus concerns.
He had 75 points (27 goals, 48 assists) in 51 games for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team last season.
The Coyotes selected Cooley as the No. 3 pick in the 2022 NHL Draft on July 7, with general manager Bill Armstrong saying, “He’s exactly what we need, and he has the chance to be a No. 1 center in National Hockey.” to become. League.”
Cooley said: “Of course, making a roster, especially a top-five pick, is pretty surreal, something I’ve dreamed of. But to have that moment with my family in Montreal was pretty special.”
Video: Cooley on Coyotes Selects Him 3rd in 2022 NHL Draft
Cooley flew a private jet from Montreal to Phoenix, where he attended a press conference between Armstrong and Arizona’s other first-round picks: center Conor Geekie (No. 11) and defenseman Maveric Lamoureux (No. 29). Then he got a dose of reality at the Coyotes development camp, from the physical tests on the ice to the competition on the ice.
His biggest takeaway?
“I just think how hard it is to crack the lineup in the NHL, how hard guys go and how much stronger I have to get,” Cooley said. “A year at university could really help. Just keep developing, and then I think I’m ready.”
Cooley (5-foot-10, 180 pounds) returned home to the Pittsburgh area and skated at the Pittsburgh Penguins practice facility in Cranberry, Pennsylvania. He shared the ice with several NHL players, including the Vancouver Canucks striker JT MillerNew York Rangers Center Vincent Trocheck and Anaheim Ducks goalkeeper John Gibson, who showed Cooley how difficult it is to score at the highest level of the sport. Cooley said Gibson barely leaves him a net and then takes out his gauntlet to make a quick rescue.
“Obviously goalkeepers are very good in the NHL, so I’m working on making my shot a little bit harder, a little bit more accurate,” Cooley said.
United States coach Nate Leman said Cooley played a lot against Slovakia on December 26, leading him to suspect Cooley would be relied on at the end of the tournament, who has been moved and will be back more than seven months later. to start. NHL Network provides: full coverage of the tournament.
Cooley impressed from his first practice of the National Junior Evaluation Camp.
“It’s balanced with the puck,” Leaman said. “He is strong, can play a lot and is also prepared to defend. He will play a lot for us.”
defender Luke Hugheswho was selected by the New Jersey Devils as the No. 4 pick of the 2021 NHL Draft and plays at the University of Michigan, said he and his future Big Ten opponent went after each other in combat drills after practice.
“I think he’s clearly a very capable player,” Hughes said of Cooley. “He can skate. He’s got a really good sense of hockey. He’s bigger than expected. He’s pretty strong out there, and he’s got a strong stick, really fast. He’s a great player. It’ll be fun to play against him.” playing in Minnesota.”
After World Juniors, Cooley returns home for a few days and then heads to Minnesota for his freshman season.
“Obviously I want to play in the NHL as soon as possible,” Cooley said. “I had the chance to talk a little bit with Bill Armstrong, but it will also depend on what season I have and how I do there. The rest will come naturally.”
Photos: Kelsey Grant/Arizona Coyotes