Gophers sophomore forward Jimmy Snuggerud, who led the team with 21 goals this season, will return for his junior season, the program announced Tuesday.

Snuggerud, a first-round draft pick (No. 23 overall) of the St. Louis Blues in 2022, was considered a risk to sign a pro contract after the Gophers season ended Saturday with a 6-3 loss to Boston University in the NCAA Sioux Falls Regional final.

Instead, he'll return and try to build on a career that includes 21 goals and 29 assists as a freshman on a line with Logan Cooley and Matthew Knies and 34 points this season while playing mainly with freshman Oliver Moore and junior Rhett Pitlick.

"This year was a lot, I learned so much as a player and as a person," Snuggerud said Saturday following the regional final. "Playing in different situations, in different roles, I learned so much."

Snuggerud, 19, started the 2023-24 season on a strong note, collecting five goals in the first three games. However, his goal-scoring could be streaky, as evidenced by a pair of four-game goal-less stretches in the first half of the season and a seven-game drought in the second half.

At the World Junior Championship in Sweden, Snuggerud played a key role in Team USA winning the gold medal. He scored five goals, assisted on three and was a plus-7 in six games as the United States went undefeated.

He carried that hot streak over in his return to the Gophers, scoring two goals in the opener of a series against Colorado College and adding a hat trick the next night against the Tigers. He had two goals and an assist in three Big Ten tournament games, then did not register a point in the Sioux Falls Regional.

In a statement released by the program, Snuggerud said, "I am excited to announce I'm coming back to the University of Minnesota next season. It was a tough ending to this season, and I feel like we have some unfinished business to accomplish. I am committed to this team and excited for the opportunity next year with the Gophers. I watched Brock Faber come back for his junior year and I feel like I can take the same path as Brock to the NHL, and help the Gophers win a national championship."

Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong issued a statement on Snuggerud's decision.

"After talking to Jimmy and his family the past couple days, the organization fully supports his decision to commit to another season at the University of Minnesota," Armstrong said. "We look forward to watching his continued development towards becoming a solid contributor for the St. Louis Blues in the future by playing a lead role for the Golden Gophers against top college competition next year."