The prevailing wisdom for teams making their top pick in a draft is generally to select the best player available rather than selecting for need.
The Edmonton Oilers have leaned slightly into need-based drafting over the past couple of years, as there’s been a clear focus on adding forwards who have a quick path to becoming contributors in the NHL.
When drafting, it makes sense for the Oilers to look at a player and consider how they’d look playing alongside Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl. Finding a prospect who can be a successful complementary player for McDavid or Leon Draisaitl while on an entry-level contract is a huge win in the salary cap world.
The ideal McDavid or Draisaitl winger is something along the lines of Zach Hyman or Evander Kane, a big player who can skate well, can retrieve the puck, and can put it in the back of the net. A player in this year’s draft who fits that profile quite well is Jimmy Snuggerud, a winger from the United States Development Program who’s expected to go in the later part of the first round.
Snuggerud is overshadowed on a very deep U.S. U-18 team by the likes of Logan Cooley, Isaac Howard, and Frank Nazar, who are projected to go early in the first round, but he’s described by his teammates as being underrated because he quietly does a lot of little things very well.
The best aspect of Snuggerud’s game is his ability to score, as he isn’t afraid to go to the net to score ugly goals and he has a hard, accurate shot with a quick release. Beyond that, Snuggerud is also praised for being a hard-working, cerebral player who sees the ice well and plays a defensively responsible game.
The thing that might result in Snuggerud falling outside of the first round is his skating, as he’s a heavy-footed player who isn’t particularly quick. But that’s the reality of where the Oilers are selecting, at No. 29 overall you won’t find prospects with perfect toolkits, and Snuggerud checks a lot of boxes.
Position: Left and Right Wing
Nationality: United States
Date of Birth: June 1, 2004
Height: 6’2″ / 187 cm
Weight: 185 lbs / 84 kg
“A down-low force with work ethic that doesn’t relent, Snuggerud has often had to do the dirty work on his line. Despite that role, he is an especially dangerous scoring threat. Snuggerud has a great release and heavy shot that can surprise goalies. On top of that, he has the size and strength to get to the middle and make plays in tough areas. His skating is not amazing, which is a reason I don’t have him higher on this list. I think Snuggerud is a well-rounded, committed player who makes those around him better and can create a lot of extra room for his linemates to operate.” – Chris Peters, Daily Faceoff
“Snuggerud is a well-rounded three-zone player with a versatile offensive game who works harder than anyone out there. His head is always up and on a swivel, even in congested areas. He’s good below the goal line and makes a lot of low-to-high plays into the slot to find cutting teammates for chances. He sticks with the play and follows shots to the net to get to rebounds, playing a determined forechecking game.” – Scott Wheeler, The Athletic
“‘I feel like he’s one of those guys who is underappreciated,’ said NTDP defenseman Charles Leddy. ‘He’s a great guy off the ice. On the ice, he’s very deceptive, very skilled. He’s able to make a lot of plays that you don’t know how he makes and he’s got a helluva shot.’
‘He’s a super slippery player,’ added NTDP captain Rutger McGroarty. ‘He’s super skilled and you see his shot. He can put the puck in the back of the net. And just his overall commitment to the game, you see what he does on the ice but off the ice he really comes to work every day.'” – Mike Harrington, The Buffalo News
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