The Ottawa Senators finally got an up-close look at the third overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft as Tim Stuetzle took the ice for camp on Sunday.
The 18-year-old is fresh from a stellar stint with Germany at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship, where he was named the best player in the tourney. He scored 10 points in five games, averaging 25:40 of ice time a contest.
The Senators are betting big on Stuetzle as they rebuild and anticipation couldn’t be higher.
The forward arrived in Ottawa on January 2 and quarantined for seven days before joining his squad. Stuetzle was tapped by Brady Tkachuk to lead the stretch at practice and got his feet wet early.
The rookie has been fitting in well with the Senators, taking mentorship from forward Derek Stepan and living with Tkachuk and Josh Norris.
“I was nervous at the beginning,” Stuetzle said Sunday. “But the boys did all the best to get the nervousness away from me, so I felt very good and comfortable on the ice with them. It was such an exciting day.”
There’s a lot to like about the Senators this season, even if the playoffs are a long shot in the ultra-competitive North Division. Ottawa will open its season Friday at home against Toronto, the same day Stuetzle turns 19.
In camp Sunday, he was on a line with Stepan and Evgenii Dadonov. Dadonov was also making his camp debut for the Senators after spending a week in quarantine. Stepan was delayed arriving at camp after the birth of his third child.
Now, it’s down to the business of hockey and Stuetzle knows he has a lot to prove.
“I mean, it’s great for me, obviously, but first I need to prove [myself] here on that level,” he said. “And that’s my goal. I hope I’m going to have a good training camp and play a good season, and that’s my goal. So, it’s great that everybody’s so excited, but first of all I need to prove [myself] on that level and play good hockey.”