Cooley could be top United States-born pick in 2022

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Logan Cooley is the favorite to be the first United States-born player selected in the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft, and NHL Network broadcaster Jon Morosi is curious the type of impact the 17-year-old center will have for his country at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship.

“He could very easily be the second-line center without Thomas Bordeleau (who was released due to COVID-19),” Morosi said on the latest edition of the “NHL Draft Class” podcast. “The United States needs someone to play the middle of the ice. As I’m watching these pre-tournament games, the major question is how does Cooley look playing the middle of the ice from a defensive standpoint?”

Cooley is one of four U.S. players to earn a roster spot who are eligible for the 2022 NHL Draft. Cooley is the only A-rated player on NHL Central Scouting’s preliminary players to watch list for the 2022 draft. The projected first-round selection has scored 30 points (14 goals, 16 assists) in 20 games for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 Team.

“He’s been dynamic against older competition and we’ve already seen Logan Cooley play up and play very well,” Morosi said. “His speed is there, his awareness and creativity, he has a great motor. For the United States to have success, they’re going to need Cooley to play that prominent role.”

Morosi also revealed what he believes to be the strength of this year’s team, which seeks a second straight championship at World Juniors for the first time. It won 2-0 against Canada in the championship game at the 2021 WJC for its fifth title.

“I think the defense corps is going to be mobile, I think it’s going to be physical, and I love, based on the different styles of play, that (U.S. coach) Nate Leaman is going to be able to have a group that he will be able to cycle in different ways,” Morosi said. “It’s a really diverse defensive corps that Nate Leaman will be able to have different pairings based on the type of opponent you will play. Over the course of what’s going to be a very fast-moving tournament, where the games will come quickly, you can adjust based on opponent and strengths of your group.”

In addition to Morosi’s insight, ‘NHL Draft Class’ co-hosts Adam Kimelman and Mike Morreale discuss many of the top players to watch from Canada, Russia, Sweden, Finland and Slovakia.

All games will be broadcast on NHL Network in the U.S. and TSN and RDS in Canada.

The U.S. will play preliminary-round games at WP Centrium in Red Deer in Group B along with Russia, Sweden, Slovakia and Switzerland. Canada will play preliminary games at Rogers Place in Edmonton in Group A, along with Finland, Czech Republic, Germany and Austria.

The top four teams in each group will play in the quarterfinals Jan. 2. The semifinals are Jan. 4, and the championship and third-place games are Jan. 5.

After opening against Slovakia (9:30 p.m. ET), the U.S. will play Switzerland on Dec. 28 (4:30 p.m. ET), Sweden on Dec. 29 (9:30 p.m. ET), and Russia on Dec. 31 (9:30 p.m. ET).

The podcast is free, and listeners can subscribe on all podcast platforms, including iTunes, Spotify and Google Podcasts. It also is available on NHL.com/multimedia/podcasts and the NHL app.

Listen: New episode of NHL Draft Class

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