NHL Draft: Making New Jersey Devils’ Case for Logan Cooley

Logan Cooley #18 of Team White (Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)
Logan Cooley #18 of Team White (Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images) /

The NHL Entry Draft will start at 7:00 PM ET on July 9th. In the past decade, teams around the league have mostly known who the 1st overall pick is going to be. This year, it seems to be different.

The argument of Shane Wright and Juraj Slafkovsky has been debated all offseason, with little progress being made. Bob McKenzie of TSN penned Slafkovsky #1 on his NHL Prospect Rankings. McKenzie has not gotten a 1st-overall pick wrong since 2009, so history indicates that the Slovak will go first.

However, we believe this year is the year where the trend stops. Shane Wright just makes too much sense for Montreal. He is a Canadian centerman who just put up 99 points in his draft year. He has all the intangibles you would want and will become a very good player in the NHL.

That leaves us with the Devils at the second pick. They have a choice to make: Logan Cooley or Juraj Slafkovsky. If I was making the choice, I am picking Cooley.

Cooley is a dynamic centerman who creates offense in a multitude of quick and creative ways. Will Scouch mentioned that he plays like a “wizard” on the ice. This is an apt description. Cooley has great vision and puck skills to find his teammates in tight spaces. He has speed in transition that will back off defenders and allow more space for his wicked wrist shot or finding a teammate.

Cooley’s shot might be the best in this class, as it is more smooth and focused than Wright’s. Cooley has great offensive instincts and a knack for making the right play at the right time. Defensively, he has a quick stick and decent positioning for his age. I do not think Cooley will be a defensive stalwart, but that’s not exactly why you are drafting him. He reminds me of a baby Clayton Keller at the USDP, where Keller was a dominant scorer that lead him to be taken 7th by the Coyotes. Cooley might also project better as a winger, using his speed to challenge defenders before making a move to take a shot.

New Jersey Devils Offseason Checklist. dark. Next

Taking Slafkovsky would be a mistake. He has all-world talent, but I question his high-end offensive output. Along with his size, he is quite a good skater who has soft hands in transition. He is a great possession player that uses his size effectively, but can he dominate a game like a Mikko Rantanen or a Gabriel Landeskog? Can he be effective enough without the puck to be a positive impact? Many scouts compare Slafkovsky with another power forward in Valeri Nichushkin. This might be a decent projection, but it is the best-case scenario in my opinion. Slafkovsky projects much more to Jesse Puljujarvi, which is not a bad player, but not the kind of player you want to be taken at two.

There are still some concerns with Cooley, as with all prospects. His foot speed is good but not at an elite level like Jack Hughes or Connor McDavid. His defensive effort is not always there at 100%. He also is not NHL-ready at the moment. Cooley is scheduled to go to the University of Minnesota for the 2022-23 season and might need two years like Luke Hughes. However, Cooley has all the skills to be an 80-90 point player in the NHL. I firmly believe that Cooley will be the best player in this class, and would be a slam dunk pick for the Devils.