April 17, 2024

Snuggerud has unfinished business on path to NHL career with Blues

MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. — Jimmy Snuggerud saw himself surrounded by an immense amount of talent at St. Louis Blues prospect camp earlier this month and couldn’t contain himself.

The forward prospect, selected by the Blues with the No. 23 pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, was at their practice facility, along with center Zachary Bolduc (No. 17 pick, 2021 NHL Draft), center Zach Dean (No. 30 pick by the Vegas Golden Knights, 2021 draft) and St. Louis’ three first-round picks in the 2023 NHL Draft: center Dalibor Dvorsky (No. 10), center Otto Stenberg (No. 25) and defenseman Theo Lindstein (No. 29), each showcasing their talents in hopes of someday soon being part of a youthful core.

“The young talent that has been showcased here … it’s been really cool just to see what they can do on the ice and the things that they worked on,” Snuggerud said during the camp. “Seeing them go from the combine to the draft to here, it’s all like a recap of a memory, but to see their highlight reels and the recaps to their seasons, it gives me chills a little bit to see what the future holds.”

But before the 19-year-old gets his NHL career off the ground, Snuggerud (6-foot-1, 186 pounds) has some more imminent, unfinished business to take care of.

The son of former NHL forward Dave Snuggerud, Jimmy Snuggerud will play his sophomore season at the University of Minnesota, which lost 3-2 in overtime to Quinnipiac in the NCAA championship game last season at Amalie Arena in Tampa.

The fact the 2024 Frozen Four will be held at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, also made returning to college a bit more appealing.

“It was a decision that had to be made right after the finish to the season and I thought it would be smarter to go back and develop more as a player,” Snuggerud said. “Last year I thought I developed well and to come back again and to play with the guys coming back is going to be really huge. Obviously, ‘Cools’ [Arizona Coyotes center prospect Logan Cooley is coming back too.

“Hopefully we can make a run at it again.”

Snuggerud had 50 points (21 goals, 29 assists) in 40 games for Minnesota, followed by 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in seven games to help the United States take home the bronze medal at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship, for USA at the U-20 World Juniors, and was the third-leading scorer in the tournament behind center Connor Bedard of Canada (the No. 1 pick in the 2023 draft by the Chicago Blackhawks) and Cooley.

The Blues would like to see Snuggerud’s progression continue to move forward before considering him as a pro.

“He’s got Cooley back, his linemate. [Snuggerud] had an extraordinary year last year,” St. Louis director of player personnel Tim Taylor said. “He (was) a true 18-year-old in that league and led the nation in scoring for a little bit there. We were really pleased with him and he had a great World Juniors. It’s another step. We want to take another step this year, see where he’s at at the end of this year, but we were really pleased with his season.”

A pure shooter that can fit into the Blues fold the same wayn forwardsVladimir Tarasenko and David Perron have in recent seasons, Snuggerud has other areas to his game he’d like to refine.

“Last year I said I needed to improve on my skating, and I thought I did that really well,” Snuggerud said. “This past year in Minnesota, I thought I was up to pace with [forward Matthew] Knies (of the Toronto Maple Leafs) and Cooley and I kind of proved that throughout the year. Obviously I need to improve on it more, but I think there’s still some things that I need to do better. I think I can improve on them.”

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