The Arizona Coyotes inked Logan Cooley to a three-year entry-level deal today, ending his collegiate career at Minnesota while he starts his professional career in the Desert. It also means he’ll be facing off against Blackhawks prospect Connor Bedard instead of skating with fellow Gophers Oliver Moore and Sam Rinzel.
Minnesota is still loaded in terms of talent, but the new arrangement will place Cooley in Arizona for a contest that will see the Blackhawks and Coyotes face off on October 30th.
One of the best to ever rock the Maroon & Gold.
We wish 92 all the best in the desert and can’t wait to see him bring home the Calder this season! 〽️ pic.twitter.com/TX5WyjrE1q
— Minnesota Men’s Hockey (@GopherHockey) July 27, 2023
Minnesota Still Loaded But Moore Will Likely Benefit
Cooley tallied 60 points in 39 games with 22 tickling the twine. He also headed to the Frozen Four and came an overtime away from winning a National Championship. So the opportunity to play with one of the best to go through the University of Minnesota certainly looked like a great chance for Moore to grow.
But in another way, Moore will likely benefit with getting more ice time as he can play either the wing or down the middle. Likely, he’ll anchor the middle, putting his speed on display and getting the chance to make his case to be in the NHL.
Moore, as he answered during the draft, likened his game more to the Detroit Red Wings’ Dylan Larkin. Asked to expound following his selection at 19th overall, Moore said this:
“But I think a guy I kinda play like is Dylan Larkin–a good comparable,” Moore said. “Someone who can use his speed and drive the middle of the ice.”
Larkin has gone onto a favorable career in the NHL, and like Cooley, played one season in the NHL before he signed his entry-level deal with Detroit. He never left. Cooley likely will start with Arizona and continue on, his skill set too far along to be contained at the AHL level.
So while having Cooley there could have helped acclimate him, Moore may actually benefit from his absence. Gophers head coach Bob Motzko when asked by Rink Live earlier this year said he’ll have conversations with the Blackhawks brass as to where Moore will go. The luxury is having a kid like Moore, versatile as he is, to put at wing or center. In the end, it’ll be what’s best for Moore’s development.
“He works his tail off,” Motzko said. “He’s a great young man. We’ll figure all that out in time.”
Logan Cooley vs Connor Bedard To Start the Season
The conversation then shifts to Bedard and Cooley heading into the October meeting. These are two who have collided on the international stage and now have a shot at it on the NHL level. Cooley also may be the guy threatening Bedard (along with few others) to take the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league’s best rookie.
Cooley will already skate in with some more young and established around him, namely Clayton Keller. But Bedard will have the likes of Taylor Hall and Lukas Reichel, both of whom can help build the foundation back from a full rebuild. But the October 30th showdown between the two could be a real treat for hockey fans–one that showcases the young talent ready to take the league by storm.
Assuming they’re both on the roster, it will be Cooley’s eighth professional game and Bedard’s ninth. Being division rivals, they’ll see each other another couple of times during the season.
The potential for must-watch hockey will be there in what could be an up and coming team for both organizations. Per Arizona Coyotes team reporter Patrick Brown, Cooley is ready for what awaits him at hockey’s highest level.
“I want to play at the highest level I can, I want to be pushed every day, I want to play with the best,” Cooley said. “Honestly, I’m just super excited about the future of the Arizona Coyotes and the direction they’re going.”
Imagine the possibilities when Bedard and Cooley face off with not only divisional claims at stake, but potentially conference and ultimately Stanley Cup hopes.
Things could get very interesting in the Central Division.