Montreal paid a hefty sum of money, as well as term, to lock down Josh Anderson after acquiring him for Max Domi (plus a third-round draft choice, turning into Slovakian defenceman Samuel Kňažko) in 2020. Then General Manager Marc Bergevin motivated the trade with the fact that well-skating goal-scoring power forwards were rarely possible to acquire and thus, you needed to pounce when the opportunity presented itself.
If that logic remains in mind for other GMs as well, Minnesota native James “Jimmy” Snuggerud might find himself in an enviable position going into July 7. His size, combined with his aptitude for finding the net and a solid two-way game should present him with many plausible suitors. Expect him to have risen up many scouting boards as we approach the 2022 NHL Draft.
Birthplace: Chaska, Minnesota
Date of birth: June 1, 2004
Weight: 185 lbs.
Team: USNTDP Juniors
When it comes to Snuggerud, hockey can best be described as a family affair. His father, Dave, played 265 NHL games around the time when the 1980s turned into the 1990s. Jimmy’s grandfather, James Westby, featured heavily for Team USA back in the 1950s and 1960s, even representing his country during the Olympics in Innsbruck back in 1964.
With both father and grandfather being Golden Gophers, you can only imagine which school attempted to — and succeeded to— recruit young Jimmy. That’s right. This autumn he will become the third generation to play hockey at the University of Minnesota. There, he will feature next to Montreal Canadiens prospect Rhett Pitlick; younger brother of Rem and cousin of Tyler.
Up until now, he has played with the US National Team Development Program, netting six goals and averaging a point-per-game in the USHL while also being prolific in the other games played with the development program. In 59 games against NCAA competition, Snuggerud had 63 points with 24 of them being goals.
As you can see in the highlights video below, Snuggerud utilizes the ice well to find space to fire his lethal shot. With four possible years of development with a quality NCAA program ahead of him, it will be fascinating to see if he can turn into a true power-play menace, ready to bully opposition once in the NHL. Snuggerud wears jersey number nine in the video below.
Jimmy Snuggerud netted his third hat-trick and Logan Cooley added five points in U18s eighth straight win. Highlights ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/dABUxlN8Qg— USA Hockey’s NTDP (@USAHockeyNTDP) November 27, 2021
Snuggerud has, as mentioned earlier, developed a sound two-way game. With his speed and size, he looks like a freight train when he joins the offensive zone off the rush. He is at his best when he gets to play on a north-south, straight to goal type of line with a centre who can dish out quality passes and help set him up in the transition game. I could have seen Snuggerud being paired up with last year’s first-round selection Chaz Lucius on a line that would have had the potential to wreak havoc in the Big Ten, but the Winnipeg Jets have already announced they signed Lucius to an entry-level deal from the start of next season.
Remind you, this is still against USHL and NCAA opponents and he will need to grow even more in the upcoming years, while simultaneously doing his best to not lose any of his skating pace. Growing into your own body can be a daunting task for some teenage players. Playing with a less stellar cast and having to use his body more in tight areas will be an interesting challenge going forward.
Elite Prospects: #24
Bob McKenzie (TSN): #19
NHL Central Scouting: #11 (North American Skaters)
Corey Pronman (The Athletic) #22
Scott Wheeler (The Athletic): #19
We can see from the rankings above that most outlets seem to have Dr. Snugz as a first-round caliber prospect, with the potential to sneak into the teens. With his, in this draft, fairly unicorn profile of size, speed and goal-scoring prowess, it only takes one team to fall in love with him to see him go even earlier than that. Yes Yegor Chinakhov, I’m talking about you.
Snuggerud doesn’t project to be much of a playmaker at this point. But as Anderson has shown during his stints in both Montreal and Columbus; there will always be a need for that big-bodied winger who can charge straight at the net and provide you with both a physical edge and 15 to 20 goals per season.
And who knows? Maybe there are some playmaking skills lingering in the power forward prospect as well. We must not forget, that with his June birthday, he is one of the youngest of the top talents in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. Regardless, it will be fun to see what the third generation of Snuggerud can do in a Golden Gophers jersey and if his career ends up as the most prolific one in the family.