Gophers land prized forward Logan Cooley
Projected as one of the top two North American skaters ahead of the 2022 NHL Draft, the Pittsburgh native announced his commitment to the University of Minnesota on Thursday.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – The Minnesota Gophers’ team plane was still rolling to a stop upon arrival in central Pennsylvania on Thursday afternoon when some very good news arrived from the western part of the Keystone State.
While the Gophers were in the air, headed to this weekend’s series with Penn State, Logan Cooley, a 17-year-old forward from Pittsburgh, announced via social media that he is headed to the U of M in the future. Ranked among the top North American prospects for the coming 2022 NHL Draft, Cooley is currently skating for the USA Hockey U18 Team in Michigan.
“This is the Gophers’ biggest commitment since Phil Kessel. I don’t think he’s going to go any lower than third in the draft,” said Chris Peters, a NHL Draft and prospects analyst for HockeySense . “He’s an elite skater and very clean. There’s an explosiveness to him but it’s easy explosiveness, where it doesn’t really look like he’s chugging. He’s just processing and moving at a pace that is above most of his peers.”
Cooley, who came to the National Team Development Program from the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite program, was originally committed to Notre Dame, but publicly announced his change in plans via Instagram on Thursday. He is a left shot center listed at 5-11 and 174 pounds.
He made the 2022 USA team for the World Juniors, and assisted on Gophers forward Matthew Knies’ lone goal in the only game the Americans played before the tournament was canceled due to the pandemic.
When the NHL released its midseason list of draft prospects on Jan. 12, 2022, Cooley was listed second among North American skaters , after Shane Wright, who is playing major junior hockey in Ontario.
"This is an elite recruit for the Gophers," said Peters, who predicted Cooley could be the first overall pick in the draft. "There's not a deep enough blue to express what a blue chip recruit this is."
In 29 games for the U18 team this season – primarily against college competition – he has 15 goals and 26 assists for 41 points. He has played another dozen games versus USHL teams this season with five goals and 10 assists for 15 points. He played in an exhibition game versus the Gophers on Jan. 3, 2022 in Minneapolis and assisted on two of his team’s three goals while centering the top line alongside Jimmy Snuggerud, another Gophers commit.