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Pensburgh Top 25 Under 25: #24 - Cooper Foster

The Penguins’ fourth pick of the 2023 draft, and our 24th-ranked young prospect, is a speedy depth center looking to establish himself in the OHL next season.

Ottawa 67s v Oshawa Generals Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images

In today’s Top 25 Under 25 profile, we take a look at the Penguins’ fourth pick of the 2023 draft, an OHL center looking for more time in the Ottawa 67’s lineup next season.

2023 Pensburgh Top 25 Under 25: Graduates and Departed
#25 - Daniel Laatsch

#24 Cooper Foster, C

2022 ranking: n/a

Age: 18

Acquired via: 2023 draft (sixth round, 174th overall)

Height/Weight: 5’11”, 172 lbs

Elite Prospects resume:

Scouting report roundup

Nick Hart, “Every scouting report for Foster comes back raving about his abilities off the puck. He’s sharp defensively, knows where to be and when, and he’ll go the extra mile to make sure opponents don’t get an easy scoring opportunity. Most reports mention his skating ability as well, as he can really take flight in open space.”

FC Hockey: “Foster is an effective two-way forward who excels in the details of the game. He may not have standout skill or elite skating ability, but he compensates with strong off-the-puck play and a high compete level. Offensively, he is a capable playmaker and shooter, although he may not excel in open space.”

Melaina Tucker, Prospects by Sports Illustrated: “Cooper has a high hockey IQ and his awareness gives him the ability to make the players around him better. He uses his speed to catch defenders off balance... While he is working to improve small things, like winning draws and getting better with his hands, like most of the 2005 players, he will need to gain strength.”

The speed mentioned by multiple scouting reports is visible in Foster’s OHL highlights, including his first OHL goal.

Foster was not a guaranteed selection in the 2023 NHL draft.

Less than two years ago, he was not a lock to be playing in the OHL.

Foster was selected by the 67’s in the second round of the 2021 OHL draft, but was cut from the roster following camp and sent back down to the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League (NOJHL) for the majority of the 2021-22 campaign.

Foster tried again in 2022-23 and succeeded in making the 67’s roster. While bouncing between lines as a plug-and-play depth player, he scored 19 goals and added 17 assists in 63 games. That assist total ranked 10th among all OHL rookies.

Jamie Henderson, Ottawa 67’s scout and GM of Foster’s NOJHL team, said last fall that Foster had transformed his game between those two seasons.

“One of the things I’m most proud of is his maturity off the ice,” Henderson said in November (h/t the 67’s team website.) “His commitment to getting into shape, and the work that he put in during the season and during the summer. Physically, he’s a different person than he was 15 or 16 months ago.”

That rapid development is a good sign for Foster, who turned 18 in June and still has some growing left to do before he makes it to the NHL.

After the Penguins used their 2023 sixth-round pick to select Foster, Nick Pryor, director of amateur scouting, described Foster as “a guy that was maybe lower in the lineup for the Ottawa 67s” last season (h/t

Like 18-year-old center Mikhail Ilyin, a KHL player the Penguins selected with the No. 142 overall pick in the fifth round, the team sees potential in Foster’s future.

“We feel as he turns into his 18-year-old year and his 19-year-old year and there’s more opportunity presented to him, same thing (as Ilyin),” Foster said. “We really liked his sense on both sides of the puck, and then we feel that there’s skill and offensive production that are untapped at this time. As more opportunity comes his way, he’ll be able to take advantage of it.”

Foster will not be eligible to play full-time in the AHL until the 2025-26 season, according to Hart. By then, the Penguins will hope he is ready for a call-up.