Last week, the Nashville Predators announced the signing of undrafted free agent Devin Cooley to a two-year, entry-level contract. With the goalie pipeline in short supply—only Connor Ingram was under contract while Ethan Haider, Tomáš Vomáčka, and Konstantin Volkov are on the team’s reserve list—a move was bound to happen.
Despite popular belief, I’m not certain this signing means the organization won’t bring back Troy Grosenick next season. Regardless, I took a look at what the Denver alumnus brings to Nashville.
By The Numbers
Cooley has taken one of the more interesting routes I’ve seen to a professional contract. After growing up in the San Jose area, he moved onto a single season in the USHL, then took a step back to a split season in the NAHL and BCHL, and finally landed at the University of Denver in 2017-18.
During his sophomore season for the Pioneers, Cooley was excellent, starting 20 games and posting a 0.934 save percentage—tied for second nationwide behind Quinnipiac standout Andrew Shortridge.
Last year, however, Cooley appeared in just nine games for Denver as a lower-body injury early into the season gave the net to Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Magnus Chrona. Cooley secured four wins in those appearances and finished with a 0.908 save percentage.
The Scouting Tape
It won’t go unnoticed a primary reason the organization was interested in Cooley: his size. At 6’5”, his frame can cancel out some mechanical failures; at the very least, he has agility that can be refined into skill with the right development.
But Cooley also moves well for his size. He can be a bit extraneous in his cross-crease movements, but his point-to-point speed is solid. In the clip above, Cooley takes a proper angle to the puck carrier as he moves deep into the zone and drops into his reverse vertical-horizontal position (RVH). By the time the shooter is ready to release, Cooley is square to the puck on the opposite side and displays his quick reaction time.
Against high-danger chances, Cooley shows similar poise. In this clip, he again takes a solid angle to the puck carrier. His drop into the butterfly delays his squareness to the play as the UMD forward cuts across the crease, but his strong edges let him fight to seal the bottom of the net off for the rest of the play.
In this clip, Cooley’s defenders don’t do him many favors, but despite the goal, he displays some solid tools. As the puck comes into the zone, he’s square and angles himself well. When he’s tracking the initial shot, Cooley drops into a vertical-horizontal position (VH) instead of an RVH. He bounces off his edges from this position, across the crease, to challenge a potential second shot, but ultimately there’s not much to do to stop this goal.
Like any goalie, a well-timed, well-placed shot will get by him, as seen on the breakaway above. I think his reaction and recovery speeds are solid and any improvements will come from him cutting down on unnecessary movements.
Cooley’s height is an advantage in tracking the puck, especially with long-distance shots behind a screen. Notice how he doesn’t panic into a lunge to respond to the rebound from the point; just one solid T-push does the trick for him to recover in time.
Below is another example of his puck-tracking skills. I like how aggressive he is in challenging the shooter despite the position battle right in front.
I don’t think his ceiling is anything exceptional, but Cooley is an intriguing prospect who could grow into a solid AHL goalie. I’d still imagine Vomáčka is the organization’s primary project behind Ingram, but Cooley provides another opportunity for a potential depth option.
Cooley’s contract is a two-year deal with a $785,000 cap hit each season. His base salary increases from $700,000 in 2020-21 to $750,000 in 2021-22, while his minors salary remains at $70,000 for both years. Upon expiry, he will be a restricted free agent.
My instinct says Cooley will start the season in Florida where only Cam Johnson is signed on an ECHL contract, but that could change if the team decides not to re-sign Troy Grosenick.