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.