The Ottawa Senators have finally locked up their third overall selection from the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, signing 18 year-old Tim Stuetzle to a three-year, entry-level contract.
The deal will see the Viersen, Germany native officially become a member of the Ottawa Senators, making it all but a certainty that he will make his NHL debut when the 2021 season begins in January.
“Tim possesses an exceptional blend of both speed and skill and a playmaking ability that our fans are going to enjoy watching for several years to come,” said GM Pierre Dorion. “He’s a dynamic forward who we expect to become a key piece of our roster as we continue trending towards icing an eventual elite-level team.”
Given the complications of a COVID offseason, and a surgically-repaired hand that sidelined him for nearly two months, there was some doubt regarding whether or not Stuetzle would play in North America this season. Having not been released by his DEL squad, Adler Mannheim, and not signing his ELC until now, speculation persisted that Stuetzle would return to Germany for the 2021 campaign.
With an opt-out clause in his DEL contract, and with his NHL contract taking precedence, Sens fans will get to see their franchise prospect in action in just a few weeks.
A prolific point-scorer, Stuetzle rocketed up the 2020 NHL Entry Draft rankings last season, with a dominant campaign in the DEL. Playing in a men’s professional league as an 18 year-old, he tallied seven goals and 27 assists for 34 points in 41 games with Mannheim, before the season came grinding to a halt.
Stuetzle has also shone on the international stage, posting five assists in five games with Germany during last year’s World Junior Hockey Championship, and already sporting a goal and an assist through two games in this year’s tournament. A stretch in which he has stood out as one of, if not the best player in the tourney.
Though a natural centre, Stuetzle will likely start his NHL career on the wing, as per Dorion and Sens head coach D.J. Smith. However long he’ll stay there is obviously undetermined, but fans can expect to see a heavy dose of Stuetzle in Ottawa’s top six.
The Senators’ 2021 training camp opens on December 31st, where Stuetzle will join them upon Germany’s WJC conclusion. Based on their 0-2 record, and depleted roster, Germany could be finished as soon as December 30th. Even with any quarantine requirements, it doesn’t seem likely that Stuetzle will miss a large portion of time with his NHL squad.
He can play as many as six NHL games without burning the first year of his contract, after which he could be sent down to Belleville, or returned to Adler Mannheim, though it seems likely that he will spend the season in Ottawa.
The Senators will open their 2021 campaign at home on January 15th, against the Toronto Maple Leafs.