Jimmy Snuggerud is still looking for his fit for draft night.
“I actually don’t have a suit yet,” the US National Team Development Program winger said. “I’ll go get one this week sometime and pick one.”
Snuggerud seeks to simplify things.
“I’m more of a low-key guy,” he said. “I’ll wear a light gray suit, a white shirt, and a regular tie. I don’t like being super flashy and standing out too much.”
But it was hard not to notice Snuggerud this week when TSN’s Director of Scouting Craig Button posted his final list of top draft-eligible prospects. The 18-year-old from Minnesota came in at No. 8, which was seven spots above the January list.
“I’ve upped my game to a point where I can be in that range,” said Snuggerud, who is the son of former Buffalo Saber Dave Snuggerud. “That’s really cool to hear, but I’m nowhere near it. This is the ‘dummy’ part and once I get picked I’ll be on a depth chart and then I need to be part of the team.” .”
During an interview with TSN, Snuggerud described how he jumped onto the draft boards this season and explained why Vancouver Canuck Brock Boeser is his NHL role model. The following is an edited transcript of the conversation.
TSN: What is it like to see an alumnus of the National Team Development Program at Auston Matthews win the Hart Trophy?
Snuggler: “Seeing him win that award and knowing that he played on the Show and went through what I went through the last two years is really cool.”
TSN: How much do you look at it?
cuddle: “I watch him a lot. That push-pull shot is something he does really well and it’s something I’ve worked on a lot.”
TSN: What did you notice?
Snuggler: “His fast pitch. Being able to pull and push the defender’s stick, you know, is impressive. There are long sticks in the National Hockey League and the way he has that fast pitch, it’s something he’s really good at.” .
TSN: How do you feel about your shot?
Snuggler: “He’s strong. I think he’s ready, but he can be a lot smarter. My accuracy isn’t where it needs to be. The pitching and hardness of the shot are good, but my accuracy isn’t quite ready for the NHL yet.”
TSN: How do you improve that?
cuddle: “I go to the rink every day and do my best to hit the net with every shot. Every Tuesday and Thursday I have my skill skates so I try to hit the net with every shot.”
TSN: How would you describe your game?
cuddle: “I’m a competitive forward who likes to use his shot in certain situations. I have a strong hockey IQ. My work ethic and competition are two things I take pride in. My offensive ability is strong and my defensive ability is strong, but I need to improve a lot in my skating”.
TSN: Where is your skate now?
cuddle: “My 17-year-old was nowhere near where I needed to be, and then over the summer I improved my straight north-south speed. I got stronger at it and in my 18-year-old I showed it. But now I’m working on moving more to the right and left and being more dynamic in the area.”
TSN: How much room do you have to grow in that apartment?
cuddle: “I have to grow a lot to be an NHL-ready skater. Going to college next season [at the University of Minnesota] I will be a better skater than last year. But to be an NHL player and to be a career player, I need to be a much better skater.”
TSN: How did you feel about your performance at the U-18 world championship where the US team won the silver medal?
cuddle: “It was good. Playing with [Logan] Cooley and [Cutter] Gauthier, we had a strong line together. We scored goals and produced, but we found ourselves with a strong goalkeeper [Sweden’s Hugo Havelid] in the last game and we couldn’t put the puck in the net when we needed it.
TSN: Why was chemistry good?
cuddle: “Everyone had their roles. Cooley is a super-skilled player and then you give Cutter the puck, and he can shoot. I was more like taking the puck to those guys and working. I’m going to be the determined player on the line and bring some energy… The chemistry always clicked.”
TSN: Who is your role model in the NHL?
Snuggler: “Brock Boeser is someone I really like to watch and model my game on. He’s got that strong right shot and that competitive edge. And he’s from Minnesota, too.”
TSN: What is the best advice your father Dave has given you?
Snuggler: “‘Stay on track. It’s a long process and you need to enjoy it.’ He tells me every day: ‘Win every day. Get better every day.’ He played hockey for a long time and knows the process I’m going through “.
TSN: What is the best story he has told you about his days as a player?
Snuggler: “One of the cool things is he played Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. He was one of the guys that shut down the top lanes, so he would go on the ice against them. Obviously, he didn’t do a very good job of shutting them down, but being able to hear who played those guys is really cool.”
TSN: Did anything he said about Gretzky surprise you?
Snuggler: “No, it was normal stuff. They tried to stop Gretzky, but he told me, ‘You literally couldn’t.
TSN: Your grandfather, James Westby, also played hockey and represented the United States in the Olympics. What have you learned from him?
cuddle: “He took a little bit of a different route. He didn’t play in the NHL. He only played in college and a couple of world championships and the Olympics. He still skates. He’s 85 years old and he skates with his friends every day. He doesn’t me He gives a lot of advice, but he shows me what it takes to play and keep playing at 85.”
TSN: It’s another strong year for USA Hockey in the draft. Button has seven players from the National Team Development Program in his top 32. So let’s finish with some word associations when it comes to his teammates. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Cooley?
Snuggler: “Skill set and dynamic. The way he sets himself apart from the others is his skill set and his ability. I played with him most of the year and he was very easy. He’s an amazing hockey player.”
cuddle: “His shot. Reminds me of watching Auston Matthews. He models his game a lot after Matthews. You give him the puck and he’s going to shoot it. I think he had 14 shots in a game this year.”
TSN: Rutger McGroarty?
cuddle: “His work ethic, competence and leadership skills are three things he takes pride in. He is a great role model in the team.”
TSN: Frank Nazar?
Snuggler: “Speed. Speed kills for him. He’s a player who uses speed in every situation.”
TSN: Isaac Howard?
cuddle: “Character. He’s a character type. He’s a fun guy. He’s like, I wouldn’t say ‘different,’ just a fun guy.”
TSN: Lane Hutson?
cuddle: “Size. He’s really underrated for his size (5-foot-8). He’s going to be an NHL player for sure.”