Eden Prairie's Snuggerud, Spinner travel same path
Their birth certificates and last names obviously say otherwise, but defenseman Luc Snuggerud and right wing Steven Spinner of Eden Prairie (Minn.) High School practically are brothers.
So much so that it wouldn't shock anyone if both were selected by the same team at the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on June 27-28.
Snuggerud and Spinner, who live 10 minutes apart in Eden Prairie, not only attended the same high school and were finalists for the state's prestigious Mr. Hockey Award, but each will attend the University of Nebraska-Omaha in the fall. They were drafted by the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the United States Hockey League in 2012 and their rights were packaged to the Omaha Lancers in a trade Feb. 3.
They were roommates at the 2014 NHL Scouting Combine in Toronto in May, but assured NHL.com they wouldn't be sharing a room when they get to college.
"We'll room separate there and get a little break," Spinner said.
We'll believe that when we see it.
"Obviously we push each other's buttons I'm sure, but it's just because we're around each other so much," Snuggerud said.
Snuggerud, a 5-foot-11, 165-pound left-handed shot, is the highest-rated United States-born high school player at No. 42 on NHL Central Scouting's list of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft.
"I'm an offensive defenseman and a strong skater," Snuggerud said. "I like to jump in on the rush, can see the ice well and make plays."
The Eden Prairie captain jumped 19 spots from the midterm rankings in January after finishing the season with eight goals, 38 points and 19 penalty minutes in 25 regular-season games. He also had one goal and 10 points in six state playoff games.
"Luc gets the puck out of the zone with a good first pass and by skating it out," Central Scouting's Greg Rajanen said. "He likes to get up and support the rush and is solid on the power play. He does have some bite in his game as a skilled defenseman."
At the end of the season Snuggerud was named winner of the 2014 Reed Larson Award as the top senior boys' high school hockey defenseman in Minnesota. He finished his scholastic career with 19 goals and 108 points in 81 games.
Spinner (5-11, 192), No. 96 on Central Scouting's final North American list, led the Eagles with 17 goals and 39 points in 25 regular-season games. He had six goals and 11 points in six playoff games.
"I'm an explosive player who tries to get points every night and do the best for the team," Spinner said.
He had 52 goals, 110 points and eight game-winning goals in 72 regular-season high school games.
"He's a high-energy player who is hard on pucks," Rajanen said of Spinner. "He creates chances with his high-end compete, physical play and puck pursuit. Steven has a quick release and can finish in tight. His skating has shown to be quick out of the blocks and he has a second gear."
Spinner is grateful Minnesota high school hockey has presented him with a chance to be drafted by an NHL team.
"Being in the state tournament this year was a dream come true," he said. "It helped because I matured over the four years at Eden Prairie and at the same time was able to stay at home which is something a lot of kids don't get to do. They don't get the home-cooked meals."
Eden Prairie lost to Lakeville North 5-4 in double overtime in the semifinals of the Minnesota State Class AA boys' hockey tournament March 8 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Unfortunately, both players were limited in playing time during the overtime periods due to injury.
Snuggerud, who was playing with a broken bone in his hand, was sidelined in the second overtime by leg cramps. Spinner spent most of the first overtime period in the locker room after sustaining a neck injury while blocking a shot.
Both players are healthy now.
"I feel like Minnesota high school hockey is unlike anything anywhere else because you're kind of growing up and playing with guys you grew up with, your buddies," Snuggerud said. "The big dream there is to make it to the state tournament and play at Xcel Energy Center in front of 19,000 fans. It was a lot of fun."
In the Section 6AA championship Feb. 26 against Benilde-St. Margaret's School at Mariucci Arena, Spinner and Snuggerud combined for one goal and two assists in a 3-2 win in double overtime.
Snuggerud interviewed with 16 teams at the Combine and Spinner met with seven; both players met with the Minnesota Wild. Snuggerud and Spinner attracted attention from scouts after being invited to the Upper Midwest High School Elite League and being named to the 2013 International Invitational All-Tournament Team.
Snuggerud was regarded as the top high school prospect on the draft board by Central Scouting for good reason.
"He's very active, physical and moves the puck very well," Central Scouting's David Gregory said. "When he combines all of that into the right elements at the high-school level, you have to decide where that translates to the next level. He can almost play at will when he wants to at times, depending on the opponent.
"He's big enough where he won't be overpowered when defending. He can get physical, but he has the offensive tools and skating to take him to the next level."