It’s official, the Arizona Coyotes have signed top prospect Logan Cooley to a three-year entry-level contract, which will see him make the jump to the NHL this season.
The Arizona Coyotes will have even more offensive firepower on hand for the 2023-24 season, with top prospect Logan Cooley officially deciding to turn professional after having previously stated his intention to return to the University of Minnesota.
Cooley joins a Coyotes roster already full of talented players, with some key veteran additions and returns putting the team firmly in a position to be more competitive this year after a few seasons of bottoming out.
Head coach André Tourigny, who is reportedly set to have his own contract extended after impressing with how he has managed the roster over the past two years, will undoubtedly be thrilled to have such a dynamic forward at his disposal for the upcoming campaign.
Along with that, however, comes the headache of trying to figure out where his players are best suited throughout the depth chart, including what game night lines and partnerships could look like once the puck is dropped in October.
Some decisions will be far more straightforward than others, such as keeping the top line together for opening night.
Clayton Keller, Barrett Hayton and Nick Schmaltz established strong chemistry together by the end of the 2022-23 season, with Keller having a career year and Hayton and Schmaltz putting up decent numbers under Tourigny’s guidance.
It would stand to reason that this partnership will continue, at least in the early stages of the season, as it will keep some continuity within the team and would go a long way to helping Hayton, a former fifth-overall pick, elevate his game to the next level and truly break out after having the best year of his young career last season.
The other nine forward spots could be largely interchangeable as the season wears on, with players moving up and down as required, but the second line will surely be focused on Cooley and getting him off and running in the NHL.
With that in mind, it would not be surprising to see him start out playing alongside an experienced head that can contribute offensively while playing a responsible two-way game to help facilitate Cooley’s development right out of the gate.
Jason Zucker had a stellar year in Pittsburgh last year before joining the Coyotes in free agency, and partnering him with an offensive force such as Cooley is bound to have positive returns early on.
That pairing would also work well with another young player who is looking to take the next step, while also already demonstrating an ability to produce in the NHL, namely Dylan Guenther.
Having Guenther, who had tasted the NHL last season with 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in 33 games, playing on Cooley’s right side would provide him with a solid playmaker that will be energized by playing with someone of a similar age and with a chance to develop some early chemistry.
A second line of Zucker, Cooley and Guenther could be very fun for Arizona Coyotes fans to watch next season, with the team keen to take steps towards returning to the playoffs once again.
The team’s third line likely sees the partnership of Matias Maccelli and Nick Bjugstad reunited, with these two having performed well together last season and Maccelli earning Calder Trophy votes after a superb rookie campaign.
Alongside them would likely be someone such as Alex Kerfoot, who has a strong two-way game and would complement both Maccelli and Bjugstad while still playing a high enough role that could see him contribute offensively himself.
While Lawson Crouse is beloved in Arizona, it’s difficult to imagine him partnered with Cooley or forcing either Maccelli or Kerfoot down to the fourth line. Crouse could instead marshall the bottom line, playing his signature style alongside the likes of Travis Boyd, Jack McBain or even Liam O’Brien.
It’s difficult to pinpoint who would occupy the fourth line for the Coyotes at this stage, but if the team carries 13 forwards, then it will likely be a combination of those four partnering up on a night-by-night basis, depending on Tourigny’s requirements.
The possibilities are endless for the Arizona Coyotes, who finally have a headache as to how best to construct their offensive group next season for positive reasons rather than considering who is best positioned to help the team tank.