Luc Snuggerud is the first American defenseman on our Top 25 Under 25 list. Snuggerud hasn't put up the offensive statistics Chicago fans are use to seeing from Blackhawks blue liners, but the organization believes he's in the right place to develop and contribute at both ends.
Birth date: Sept. 18, 1995
Acquired via: Fifth round (141st overall) in 2015 NHL Entry Draft
Most recent stop: University of Nebraska-Omaha (NCAA)
Size: 6'0, 183 pounds
Numbers can be deceiving, and no knows that more than Hawks scouts monitoring Snuggerud's development at UNO. He scored four goals and added 14 assists in 35 games during his sophomore season for the Mavericks. His lower numbers can be attributed to coach Dean Blais' defensive-minded system, according to SB Nation College Hockey:
Snuggerud was frequently handcuffed in Omaha's extremely conservative defensive system, but when given the opportunity, he was able to use his tremendous skating ability to be a threat on both ends of the ice. He's still developing on the defensive side of the puck and needs to get physically stronger, but he has the skating ability and upside to be a very good defenseman at the NHL level.
Blais, who coached North Dakota to titles in 1997 and 2000, sees some similarities in Snuggerud's game to Chicago's best defenseman.
"Luc’s a lot like Duncan Keith. Obviously Keith’s in a league by himself, but (Luc) likes to get the puck in," Blais told CSN Chicago's Tracey Myers. "He’s a good passer, but he’s getting more confident in the offensive zone. He didn’t do that much his first year. He needed more time to get stronger, more confident, and he’s developed that. He’ll have a heck of a year with us. He’ll get a chance to put that Blackhawks jersey on in the next couple of years."
What's next in 2016-17
Snuggerud will return to UNO for his junior season. He'll need to continue to develop both physically and at both ends of the ice next season. Following the program's first Frozen Four appearance in 2015, UNO went 18-17-1 and finished sixth in the eight-team NCHC. Snuggerud is one of 20 players that return to UNO, and hopefully he'll be anchor on blue line to return to Mavericks to the postseason.
"We’ve got a lot of guys coming back. We usually have a pretty young team, so it’ll be a good year. We have a good goalie coming in and some young players just picked up," Snuggerud said. "We’re going to have a lot of talent, so hopefully it’ll all come together."
Second City Hockey's Top 25 Under 25 rankings
No. 19: Luc Snuggerud
No. 20: Robin Norell
No. 21: Robin Press
No. 22: Dylan Sikura
No. 23: Graham Knott
No. 24: Anthony Louis
No. 25: Roy Radke
Honorable mentions: Radovan Bondra, Joni Tuulola, Mathias From, John Dahlstrom, Lucas Carlsson