Can you name the last defenseman that the Blackhawks drafted, developed, and then played in at least 30 games with the parent club? It was 2005 fourth-round pick Niklas Hjalmarsson. But there are some blue line prospects in the Hawks’ organization now who have the potential to snap that streak. One of them is the excellently-named Luc Snuggerud, whose arrow continues to point straight up.
Birth date: Sept. 18, 1995
Acquired via: Fifth-round pick (No. 141 overall) in 2014
Most recent stop: Rockford Ice Hogs (AHL)
Size: 6’1, 190 pounds
Contract: Three years, $767,500 cap hit, plus bonuses
Fifth-round picks rarely generate too much buzz within an organization initially. Snuggerud was not an exception to this rule, quietly heading off to play college hockey at Nebraska-Omaha after the Hawks picked him in 2014. Since then, however, Snuggerud improved each season and by the end of his junior year, he was known as one of the best offensive defenseman at the college level. As a sophomore, he had just four goals and 14 assists for the Mavericks. But he exploded in the following season for 11 goals and 20 assists in 39 games. After that season, he signed an entry-level contract with the Hawks in March and spent the rest of the 2016-17 season with the Ice Hogs. He had one goal and four assists in the first 13 games of his professional career.
Growing up in Eden Prairie, Minn., he idolized former Blackhawk Nick Leddy and played hockey at the same high school as the current New York Islander. Snuggerud said he models his game after Leddy, one of several interesting things that Snuggerud shared in his lengthy Q & A with The Athletic’s Scott Powers from earlier this year. That means Snuggy is a smooth skater who’s never afraid to jump into the play from the blue line and has the ability to finish that is not always prevalent among defensemen.
What’s next in 2017-18?
If Snuggerud was a right-handed shot, he may have a quicker path to the NHL, given the Hawks scarcity of that skill set. Still, given the steep curve for defensemen learning how to play at the professional level, it’s unlikely that Snuggerud is going to crack the NHL lineup in the upcoming season. Expect him to spend this year with the Ice Hogs and hopefully continue the upward trajectory he’s had over the last couple of seasons.