Quartet of future Gophers headed to NHL Scouting Combine in advance of July draft

Eighty-five of the top young hockey players in the world will gather in Buffalo for fitness testing and interviews prior to the 2022 NHL Draft, coming in July. Among that group are four who are committed to play for the Minnesota Gophers as soon as next season.

Jimmy Snuggerud.jpg
Forward Jimmy Snuggerud, who committed to the Gophers while skating in USA Hockey's National Team Development Program for the 2021-22 season, is projected to be a first-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft in July.
Contributed / USA Hockey

MINNEAPOLIS — It will take you roughly 15 hours to drive from the Minnesota Gophers’ home rink to Harborcenter, the practice home of the NHL’s Sabres, but if you’re itching to see the Gophers of the future, Buffalo is the place to be on the opening weekend of June.

Four players who have committed to skate for coach Bob Motzko’s Minnesota program are among the 85 pro hockey prospects invited to the 2022 NHL Scouting Combine, which will be held June 3-4 in Buffalo. It is one of the final formal opportunities for pro team scouts to get an on-ice look at some of the top young players in the world prior to the 2022 NHL Draft, which will be held July 7-8 in Montreal.

Two forwards and two defensemen bound for the U of M are among the players selected to participate. They are:

  • Ryan Chesley , a defenseman from Minneapolis who played at both Shattuck-St. Mary’s and with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program.
  • Logan Cooley , a forward from Pittsburgh who played for USA Hockey in Michigan last season. He is projected to be one of the top three picks in the draft.
  • Sam Rinzel , a defenseman from Chaska who split his time between prep hockey at Chaska and the USHL with Waterloo. He is slated to join the Gophers in 2023-24.
  • Jimmy Snuggerud , a forward from Chaska who played for USA Hockey in Michigan last season is a third-generation Gopher, following his father, Dave, and his grandfather, Jim Westby.

The invite list also includes Cruz Lucius, the Grant, Minn., forward who played last season for USA Hockey and was committed to the Gophers but reopened his recruitment in late April. According to a Lucius family source, Cruz is hoping to make a college choice sometime after the combine. Cruz's older brother Chaz was a first-round pick of the Winnipeg Jets last summer and signed a pro contract at the end of an injury-shortened freshman season with the Gophers.

Two defenders and a forward will supply the Minnesota team leadership in 2022-23, and the naming of three new players to wear the 'C' means the end of three-time captain Sammy Walker's days with the Gophers.
The 25-year-old Fiala is fresh off the best season of his blossoming career in which he scored 33 goals, 52 assists, and 85 points.
Three decades removed from his time with the Minnesota Gophers and still the program's all-time assists leader, Larry Olimb is taking on a new challenge as head coach of an Orono girls' team looking to improve on its third place finish at the 2022 state tourney.
The sophomore-to-be is a Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick and he talks about his whirlwind freshman season on The Rink Live podcast with Jess Myers and Mick Hatten.
A rare third-generation Minnesota Gopher, talented forward Jimmy Snuggerud has the NHL Draft and a potential World Juniors roster spot coming up. But wearing maroon and gold, his sights are set solely on being college hockey's last team on the ice next April.
Ryan Chesley is a top prospect for the 2022 NHL Draft, but if he didn't give the game another shot at age 7, he may not have ended up where he is today.
Zach Wiese carried on the Rochester Grizzlies' tradition of strong goaltending in the 2021-22 season, leading the franchise to its first-ever Fraser Cup championship, as postseason champions of the North American 3 Hockey League. Now he's made more franchise history, becoming the first Grizzlies player to commit to a Division I college. And it's not just any D1 program. It's the home-state University of Minnesota.
Matthew Knies and Brock Faber along with six others with Minnesota Gophers ties, will bring their wealth of international hockey experience to the camp where Team USA for the 2022 and 2023 World Junior Hockey Championships will be picked.
The first head coach of the women's hockey program at the University of Minnesota, Halldorson discusses the changes in hockey since she grew up, challenges she's faced along the way and more on The Rink Live podcast with Jess Myers and Mick Hatten.
While we likely won't know the full Big Ten schedule for a month or two, the release of other teams' schedules has revealed the 10 nonconference games the Gophers will play between early October and early January.
Committing to the Gophers alongside his older brother when they were 13 and 14, Cruz Lucius formally announced his change in plans this week, opting to head to Wisconsin instead.
It has been talked about for a long time, and now the end of the big ice sheet at the Gophers' home rink is really going to happen. Also: a former Gopher is honored by USA Hockey, and a quartet will captain the Gophers women next season.

Similar to the NFL combine which has become a major off-season event each winter prior to the football draft, the event will include fitness testing and media availability for the players. All four future Gophers were listed among the top 20 North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting’s final pre-draft ranking and all are likely to go in the first round. If that happens, it would be just the second time that four Gophers were selected in the draft’s opening round.


Jess Myers covers college hockey, as well as outdoors, general sports and travel, for The Rink Live and the Forum Communications family of publications. He came to FCC in 2018 after three decades of covering sports as a freelancer for a variety of publications, while working full time in politics and media relations. A native of Warroad, Minn. (the real Hockeytown USA), Myers has a degree in journalism/communications from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He lives in the Twin Cities. Contact Jess via email at, or find him on Twitter via @JessRMyers. English speaker.
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