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West Mifflin native Logan Cooley selected 3rd overall in NHL draft by Arizona Coyotes

Mike DeFabo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in Hockey

MONTREAL — From Pittsburgh to the third overall pick.

West Mifflin native Logan Cooley realized his childhood dream on Thursday night when the Arizona Coyotes selected him third in the NHL Draft. That’s the highest a Pittsburgh-area native has ever been selected, surpassing J.T. Miller, who grew up in Coraopolis and was chosen 15th overall by the New York Rangers in 2011.

While Cooley was selected behind power forward Juraj Slafkovsky (No. 1 to Montreal) and defenseman Simon Nemec (No. 2 to New Jersey), a number of draft analysts believe the Pittsburgh product is the prospect with the highest long-term ceiling. His elite skating, high-end hockey IQ and a competitive spirit largely makes up for the one knock on his game, his undersized 5-10, 174-pound frame.

The journey that led Cooley to the Bell Centre on Thursday night began back in Pittsburgh. Cooley was part of the Sidney Crosby Learn to Play Hockey program during its inaugural season in 2008-09, where he received head-to-toe gear and an introduction to the game.

While the Cooley-to-Crosby connection makes for a good story, the local product would have inevitably found the game in a family full of athletes. Two of his uncles, Tom and John Mooney, played Division I at Notre Dame and Colorado College, respectively. They passed on their love of the game to a sprawling family of hockey prospects.

Cooley’s two older brothers — Eric and Riley — had skates on their feet almost as soon as they could walk. Both developed through the Pens Elite program, with Eric later going on to play collegiately at Niagara University and Ohio State.

Logan was never far behind.

From his earliest beginning, Cooley starred on the highly competitive Pens Elite program. By the time he was 15 years old, Cooley moved up an age group to play on the 16U team, where he put up 18 goals and 46 points in 45 games.

 

His trajectory took off from there, as he went from one of the best players in the area to one of the best in the country. He was eventually selected to participate in the U.S. National Team Development Program. In 51 games with the U18 national team, Cooley posted 27 goals and 75 points. During his time in the USNTDP, he also added a two-way dimension to round out his game.

“As a hockey player, you could just tell he's super smart, super talented,” said Adam Nightingale, who coached Cooley on the U.S. national team. “And then as a kid, he’s just a really good person. You could tell right away that he wanted to be coached. He was humble but confident. He had that good blend.”

Cooley’s stock really began to take off last year, just as players in the 2021 NHL Draft class were hearing their names called. At the World Junior Summer Showcase, the event was full of future pros. The U.S. roster alone featured a long list of NHL first-rounders, including 2021 13th overall pick Matt Coronato, 10th overall pick Tyler Boucher and fourth overall pick Luke Hughes.

Cooley was arguably the best player at that event.

From there, some wondered if maybe Cooley could make a late push to become the No. 1 overall selection.

Cooley, who is still considered a bit undersized, plans to spend a year at the University of Minnesota to continue to fill out his frame and refine his game. He expects to make the jump to the pros the following season.

©2022 PG Publishing Co. Visit at post-gazette.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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