36-Year-Old Left Wing – Free Agent
Matt Cooke Contract Information:
Granted unconditional release by the Wild and became an unrestricted free agent in June 2015.
Cooke cleared waivers Friday and will be granted his unconditional release, making him a free agent, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
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Matt Cooke: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Cooke has changed his game the last two seasons as the former headhunter and overall dirty player has taken just two major penalties and had just 36 total penalty minutes last season. While the major penalties may be in the past, Cooke still provides plenty of hits (just over two per game last season) and brings a toughness that the Wild perceived they lacked in 2012-13. However, he may have a lower profile on the Wild (he'll likely play on the third line) and will likely see fewer chances on offense with the move away from Pittsburgh.
After sitting out a 20-game suspension to end to 2010-11 season, Cooke shocked many in the hockey world with his reformed style of play last year. The 34-year-old winger managed to stay in control of emotions and nearly scored as many points (38) as he accumulated PIMs (44). Cooke set a career high in goals with 19, but it would be unwise to bank on the feisty forward reaching that number once more -- it's unlikely (though not impossible) he'll line up next to Sidney Crosby again. He will provide his fair share of hits, however. Cooke registered 160 hits to rank near the top of the team. It would be a mistake to reach for him, but he's worth plugging into lineups for a week or two when injuries strike.
Cooke served a suspension near the end of the most recent regular season that cost him a chance to contribute in the postseason, as well. However, Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero stated in the summer that the team will welcome back the controversial winger. When he's on his game, Cooke serves as a serviceable fantasy winger with an ability to score 10-15 goals, compile 100-plus penalty minutes and ring up the hits -- he had 192 in 67 games in 2010-11. The NHL has seemingly made Cooke the poster boy for questionable hits and there's a good chance he'll serve another suspension in the upcoming campaign. When he's on the ice, though, he contributes with short-handed points (he had three shorties and six points total) and penalty minutes. As a result, Cooke represents decent late-draft value as a third-liner on an expected line with Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy.
The Pens rewarded Cooke with a three-year, $5.4 million deal in the offseason after the feisty forward scored 15 goals and 30 points for Pittsburgh in 2009-10. Cooke collected 106 penalty minutes as his aggressiveness and on-the-edge style of play earned him 183 registered hits – 21st among NHL forwards. Surprisingly, Cooke’s high hit on Bruins forward Marc Savard neither drew a penalty nor a suspension, though the league went on to adopt strict rules against head-hunting starting in 2010-11. Cooke also helped fantasy teams out with a plus-17 rating, which was the second-highest mark on the team. He also tried camping out in front of the net on power plays, but the result was just two goals and an assist. Make no mistake: fantasy poolies can expect 30 points and 100 PIMs from Cooke in a healthy season – anything more is gravy.
Fans were flummoxed when Pittsburgh let Jarkko Ruutu walk prior to last season and instead chose to sign Cooke as his replacement. One Stanley Cup later, few murmurs can be heard about the decision to go with Cooke. A third-line grinder, Cooke can be counted on to provide somewhere around 10 goals and 100 PIM. From a fantasy perspective, Cooke's greatest value comes in the "hits" category, where the winger compiled 262 hits, fifth most in the NHL.
Cooke was brought in by the Pens to help offset the loss of agitator Jarkko Ruutu. Cooke will likely toil on a grind line, but with the top six in need of a couple skaters, there's always a chance Cooke could find himself next to Sidney for a game or a week at a time. Still, he's reached the 40-point mark only once in nine NHL seasons.
Cooke was more himself as the season wore on, but the slow start soured fantasy owners early on. His game is one that thrives on the chaos he stirs on the ice. He was injured off and on throughout the 2006-07 season, which accounted for his less than stellar play. Even in top form, Cooke is only worth a roster spot in deep leagues.
Cooke has the role of agitator on the Canucks and he plays it well. He will contribute PIMs, as well as find the score sheet. His value is excellent to those in leagues with more than just offensive points. This year he could have a larger role in the offense too.
Cooke plays an aggressive, scrappy style. He plays both ends of the rink well, but lacks true offensive abilities. That being said, he is still capable of chipping in about 15 goals and 40 points a season.