MONTREAL — Logan Cooley can’t help but think it fits him perfectly when Kent Hughes mentions the Canadians will call up the player they think will be the best in four or five years.
” Sure. I’m a youngster getting stronger and bigger. I rate my potential as high and the way I’ve developed over the past year I think suits me,” responded Cooley, who is one of the was the draft’s highest hopes on Wednesday at the Montreal Science Center.
“But the Canadian’s general manager will identify the player he most wants for his team and it will be the one that best suits his organization,” he added.
On Monday, Hughes reiterated that the final decision on the top pick had not yet been made. However, he admitted that he had a certain preference, other than wanting to hear the opinions of all his recruiters.
As we await the announcement that will rock Bell Center and keep fans entertained for weeks if not longer, Cooley is trying to capitalize on the positives of the experience.
“Obviously it’s quite stressful not knowing where you’re going, but it’s fun and a stage at the same time and you have to savor it. I’m here with my family, so it’s fun,” said the talented center of America’s development program.
The American becomes the highest-drafted Pittsburgh in the NHL. He would be a very interesting ambassador for clubs like the Devils or the Coyotes but he assures us he doesn’t want to stay on American soil.
” Not at all. I’m happy with the result of the lottery. Montreal is in good shape with the next generation and their passionate supporters. I want to grow in this organization,” he commented.
Cooley seems drawn to the prospect of joining fellow countryman Cole Caufield there, although he knows full well that he has developed promising chemistry with Nick Suzuki.
“Caufield is another former American program, of course I would imagine playing alongside him, I could recognize him with his scoring chances,” admitted the 18-year-old southpaw.
Through interviewing many NHL teams over the past month, Cooley has received encouraging signals from the Habs.
“When I went to dinner with them at the Combine, everything was positive and I felt a connection to the leaders. But I know anything can happen in the repechage,” said Cooley, who didn’t have an interview with Vincent Lecavalier.
So far, the Canadian has been more reserved in relation to Cooley and those responsible have also been less questioned about him. Perhaps this background is a perfect fit for Hughes, Jeff Gorton, and the hockey general staff. In the end, Cooley believes in his chances with the Canadian and realizes that the number one title is important to him.
“Of course, but above all I want a team that wants me very much. No one dreams of being second choice,” the young man replied during a press scuffle with the Saint Lawrence River in the background.
Realistically, Cooley understands that his chances of success are reduced with the Devils, who have second word at the moment, as that team is center stage with Jack Hughes (not Kent’s son) and Nico Hischier.
An evolution in his defensive game
Considered the most electrifying player of the year, Cooley shows his character on the ice to compensate for his not-so-imposing physique (5’6″ and 180 pounds).
His arsenal has allowed him to rise to the top of some NHL scout rosters. In his opinion, the main way he scored points was by demonstrating an improvement in his game.
“I’m better on both sides of the rink, I’ve been very focused on that aspect. It’s so important in the NHL,” said Cooley, proud of the progress.
Additionally, Cooley sometimes scared some recruiters who noticed a lack of structure and defensive efficiency. But he sounds like a big hockey fan who enjoys dissecting the games of certain NHL athletes like Clayton Keller.
“I like watching him, like some other smaller forwards, to see how they stack up against bigger opponents on the ice,” said Cooley, who should also be able to incorporate other defensive details into his repertoire.