One way or another, the 2020 NHL Entry Draft will be happening. That means there are prospects and possibilities aplenty and that means it’s time we take a look at Tim Stutzle.
According to NHL Central Scouting as of April of 2020, Stutzle is the top-ranked European prospect in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
The 18-year-old German forward is skating for Adler Mannheim in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga. He chose to remain in Germany despite being committed to the University of New Hampshire. In the 2019 CHL Import Draft, Stutzle went 19th overall and was picked up by the Seattle Thunderbirds.
Staying in Germany seems to have impacted his stock value considerably, as Stutzle signed a three-year deal with Adler Mannheim in June of 2019.
At the NHL level, it’s believed Stutzle could be one of the highest-drafted German players in history. That’s a bold claim when you consider Leon Draisaitl went third overall to the Edmonton Oilers in 2014 and Moritz Seider went sixth to the Detroit Red Wings last year. The highest-drafted German-born player is Dany Heatley, picked second overall by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2000.
Is Stutzle in that class?
In 2018-2019, he worked in the German Development League and put up 23 goals and 32 assists in 21 games. That was good enough to average a whopping 2.62 points per game.
In 2019-2020, Stutzle placed seventh on Adler Mannheim with 34 points in 41 games. But there’s a significant caveat here, as he was the third youngest player in the DEL and 10 years younger than the average age of his teammates.
In five games for Team Germany at the 2020 World Junior Hockey Championship, Stutzle pocketed five assists.
For this versatile forward, the main selling feature is his skating ability. Stutzle is fast and smooth on his feet. He anticipates and likes to pass the puck, which some argue can be to his detriment. He is predominately inclined to set up plays, despite possessing a quality shot.
Most players develop into more complete versions of themselves with time and that’ll be the case with Stutzle. His shot will improve with age and seasoning, but his hockey IQ is already intact. He doesn’t waste movement and cuts solid, efficient routes to the puck, plus he possesses patience beyond his years.
Defensively, the book on Stutzle is compelling. His speed is an asset, as he can drive momentum and force his opponents to cough up the biscuit with a rugged forecheck. He’s not afraid of playing a physical brand of hockey, even when he’s outmatched by older players.
At the NHL level, most reports suggest he’ll suit up at centre. That will make use of his versatility and smarts and on a good team he can set up scoring wingers with his unteachable composure.
With Alexis Lafreniere expected to go first in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, will Stutzle slide in at second? Or are we looking at other options like Lucas Raymond or Quintin Byfield first? Only time will tell, of course, but this German forward has an awfully good shot at making history.
Image: Ryan Remiorz/CP