Welcome to my ramblings, where I’ll be writing down my thoughts on NHL and draft-eligible prospects once a week. I’ll be using the ramblings to keep you posted on the week’s events, or let you in on some questions I ask myself often regarding prospects, amateur scouting and player development.
This time around, I wanted to review the Biosteel All-American Game, a Blue vs. White match in which the USHL’ various American junior prospects are called upon to display their talents. This year’s showcase featured a decent amount of potential first-round picks in the upcoming NHL draft, so I saw fit to review each team’s standouts and write a bit about what I saw.
Starting off with Team White, headlined by a potential top-five pick come July:
Logan Cooley, C — USNTDP (2022)
Cooley’s game tonight was experimental and imaginative; the two-way forward saw this showcase for what it was: an opportunity to try outrageous stuff out and see what works. Most notably, he fired a good amount of behind-the-back spin passes and fired a between-the-legs shot on goal which led to an easy rebound bury for Cole Spicer.
I really like this side of Cooley, when he strays from his comfort zone and puts himself out there; the center has maintained that energy in the USHL, and the hands on Cooley are always evident. He holds both elbows away from his hip and generally keeps his hands above the puck, allowing him to pull, pass or shoot in one movement while extending how far he can handle the puck from his body. His ability to read what’s in front of him and react quickly makes his game tick, as he is often a nuisance on contested pucks and can pick pockets with an impressive amount of consistency.
Although there isn’t a game-breaking element to his shooting, it’s decent enough to beat netminders at this level from short and medium range, which is where Cooley ends up often anyway. His execution at times lacks fluidity; he’s more erratic than graceful, but he has so much energy that he makes up for it by working twice as hard as his opponents.
I’d be shocked if Cooley’s available outside of the top-10. There aren’t many prospects as complete as he is, and he could end up being a top-line center if the stars align. If not, he’s got a vast toolkit to fall back on if the offense doesn’t pop. The only thing that could hold him out is his 5-foot-10 frame, which has the tendency to make teams hesitate to pull the trigger in the top-10.
Lane Hutson, LD — USNTDP (2022)
I could gush for days about this kid. He’s just so elusive, so crafty, an absolute joy to watch in the offensive zone. Did I mention he’s listed at 5-foot-8, 148 pounds, and defends like he’s 6-foot-2? Of course I didn’t. That was the first sentence of the paragraph.
Hutson’s edgework is refined, and he uses very little energy even at full speed. He can close gaps in no time, and his defensive stickwork makes me think he’s gotten used to fending off bigger forwards. His passing is thought-out and purposeful, putting accurate pucks through layers