Opening week thoughts from around the NHL: Logan Cooley makes great first impression, and how concerned should Seattle be?
The first week of the 2023-24 NHL season is in the books.
Happy Monday. Here is what is ahead today.
The Arizona Coyotes have their own standout rookie to bring some hope.
The Seattle Kraken are off to a tough start.
Auston Matthews is back.
Logan Cooley has arrived
This year’s rookie class is obviously headlined by Chicago Blackhawks No. 1 overall pick Connor Bedard, and the rookie has wasted zero time in making an immediate impact. As I wrote on Wednesday, he looks the part of a No. 1 overall pick and already seems to pass the vibe check for a potential superstar. He just plays different.
He is not the only rookie in this year’s class that is going to bring big hope to a struggling, rebuilding franchise.
The Arizona Coyotes have their own potential star in rookie Logan Cooley, and he also had quite a first impression over the weekend when he made his anticipated debut.
He played 19 minutes in the Coyotes’ shootout win over the New Jersey Devils, recording two assists, a couple of shots on goal and some really impressive underlying numbers when it comes to scoring chances and expected goals. Like Bedard, he also just seemed to immediately fit in the NHL, and against a really good team (probably one of the best in the NHL).
This is a potentially significant development for Arizona because this rebuild needs somebody to step forward and be a superstar, franchise caliber player. I really like Clayton Keller, but for as productive as he has been I am not sure if he is the kind of player that is somebody you build a team around. He seems like the perfect No. 2 complementary piece and the perfect Robin to somebody else’s Batman. Of all the players the Coyotes have drafted and added to the organization during this rebuild, Cooley is by far the player with the best chance to be that Batman.
For as bad as the Coyotes have been over the past decade, they have had some truly rotten draft lottery luck when it comes to being positioned to land a franchise-changing player. They have never picked first or second, and even in some of their truly bad years have never picked higher than third. In 2015 they missed out on the Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel derby and ended up with Dylan Strome No. 3 overall, while they also landed the No. 3 pick to select Cooley in 2022.
Strome never became a star, but the Coyotes were at least able to trade him for Nick Schmaltz who has become a really good top-six player. Cooley, on the other hand, seems like he has the talent to not only be the most anticipated prospect to come through Arizona’s system, but also a truly elite top-shelf producer.
It is also a pleasant surprise to see him there this season because there was still some doubt as to when he was going to sign — or if he would sign — and whether or not he would return to the University of Minnesota for another year. But the Coyotes were able to get the contract secured and add him to a really interesting team in the Pacific Division.
Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a playoff team. And it would be a huge surprise if Cooley outshined somebody like Bedard this season as a rookie. But for the first time in probably more than a decade Coyotes fans should finally have a real sense of optimism that the on-ice aspect of the team might finally be headed in the right direction.
How concerned should Seattle be with its slow start?
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