3. Tim Stuetzle (Reader Rank: 3, Last Year: NR)
18-year-old Tim Stützle (or Stuetzle) is undoubtedly the most exciting prospect in the Sens’ pipeline right now. Coming off a stellar season in the DEL (Deutsche Eishockey Liga - which translates to German Ice Hockey League), in which he was ranked as the top European prospect and selected third overall in the 2020 NHL entry draft - tying Leon Draisaitl as the highest drafted German player in NHL history - the hype is real.
His stats in German leagues have been talked to death this year, both on this blog and elsewhere, so if you’re looking for an in-depth analysis of his skills, I’ll point you to those pieces, because they’re fantastic. A quick recap, though, for those wanting a quick refresher:
Stuetzle has been playing against people older than himself for years, and more than holding his own. He’s also stayed in Germany, which is relevant when discussing his stats, because German leagues aren’t quite at the same level as some of the better-known North American, Swedish and Russian leagues. He technically joined the German U16 league at just 12 years old, although he only played two games in his first season. He then spent two full seasons with Krefelder: In 2015-16, he finished with the second highest point total on the team. In 2016-17, he led not just his team but the entire league in both points and assists. He then moved on to the U19 league, where he excelled despite being one of the youngest players on his team in 2017-18. In 2018-19, at just 16 years old, he graduated to the U20 league, and led the entire league in points per game in his first season.
On the international stage, he has consistently been one of the strongest players on the German team, playing for them in a variety of U16, U18 and U20 tournaments. Just last year, he was named Germany’s top player in the 2020 World Junior Championship.
He made the jump from competing against teenagers to competing against adults in his draft year, 2019-20. He ranked 24th in the DEL in points per game and 17th in assists even though, if you click through the profiles of the players ahead of him in these categories, every single one is either in their late 20s or their 30s. Not bad for an 18-year-old.
Overall, Tim Stuetzle’s biggest strengthis his versatility. For a player of his age, his game is remarkably complete: he’s one of the best skaters in his draft class, he has amazing hands, and he’s a phenomenal playmaker. His defensive game isn’t anything to write home about, but that’s not exactly unusual in an 18-year-old. Furthermore, his specific skillset - namely, his hockey sense - suggests that with time and good coaching, his defensive game will probably improve. I’m no expert on prospects and scouting, but I wouldn’t worry too much about that particular aspect of his game. The Sens have an excellent player on their hands.
Looking ahead to this next season, Stuetzle is expected to suit up for Germany tomorrow, December 25th, in the IIHF World Junior championship. The team faced a significant setback earlier this month when they had a few players test positive for COVID-19, but they’re now set to play Finland on the first day of the tournament. The team narrowly avoided relegation last year, and aren’t expected to be a serious threat in 2021, but this will certainly be a great chance for Sens fans to get a good look at our most exciting prospect.
We don’t yet have confirmation that Stuetzle will be in the Sens’ lineup on opening night, but based on DJ Smith’s recent comments, it definitely looks like he’ll get a shot at NHL action this season. Since he’s already in Canada, it would make a lot of sense if he started the season with the team. Something to look forward to in 2021!