At 161st overall, the New Jersey Devils selected HC Davos center Benjamin Baumgartner. The Austrian center is an overager who emerged as a promising player for HC Davos in recent seasons. Let’s learn a little bit more about the player.
Who is Baumgartner?
According to his Elite Prospects profile, Baumgartner is a 5’9”, 165 lbs. left handed center from Zell am See, Austria. He has been in the youth set up for HC Davos in Switzerland since 2014-15 and has excelled at every level he’s played at. He was originally eligible for the 2018 draft due to his April 22, 2000 birthdate. In 2017-18 he was a point per game player for Davos U20 in the top Swiss junior league. In 2018-19 he managed to get into 20 top flight games for HC Davos where he had a goal and 3 assists. Last year, in his age 19 season, he put up 7 goals and 20 assists in 37 game for HC Davos, showing that he was ready to be a professional player. Elite Prospects has him signed through the 2020-21 season with HC Davos.
He’s also represented Austria at various tournaments, most notably playing for the U20 team since his age 17 season. Now Austria doesn’t play the best competition at the U20 WJC Division 1A level but he’s still managed 9 goals and 9 assists in 15 games at that level. Of course, he has had the benefit of playing with Marco Rossi, though there is something to be said about being able to keep up with him. It appears that he may be a late bloomer.
What Others Say About Baumgartner
First, let’s start with what Elite Prospects had to say about him:
There’s a lot of offensive skill packed into Baumgartner’s meager frame. He’s consistently displayed a high level of skill at every turn. He’s a competent handler on both forehand & backhand. The combination of a dexterous set of hands, technically sound passing, and high-end vision make Baumgartner a threat whenever he’s on the puck. -EliteProspects 2020 NHL Draft Guide
Dobber Prospects listed Baumgartner as a potential late round gem. Here is what they said on their consensus on Baumgartner after talking about reasons to take him and reasons to pass:
Benjamin Baumgartner is the type of player who can help your team win hockey games. He can play as a shutdown center or be used on a scoring line to free up others. He can kill penalties or be used as a puck distributor on the powerplay. He can play any forward position, on any line. He thinks the game at an elite level and takes his defensive responsibilities most seriously.
It’s quite possible his game will translate well to the NHL. Sure, there may be less upside, but there is also less risk. He’s already a professional hockey player. He needs to add substantial muscle and work on his shot.
Next, let’s see some of what Smaht Scouting had to say about Baumgartner:
In terms of skill set Baumgartner is a plus skater with great edge-work and a nice burst that means he can pull away from opponents once he gets separation. He also possesses soft hands that, combined with good vision, mean he can feather beautiful passes to danger areas and anticipate openings that not many players see. He is a play-maker first and foremost, though he has a decent shot when he uses it.
Next, here is what Steve Kournianos of The Draft Analyst has to say about Baumgartner:
Devils at 161 take dynamic playmaker Benjamin Baumgartner from Switzerland. pic.twitter.com/eKCyEAvA9M— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) October 7, 2020
Steven Ellis of The Hockey News loved the pick as he considers Baumgartner a poential steal. Here’s what he had to say:
The New Jersey Devils get my steal of the draft, HC Davos forward Benjamin Baumgartner.— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisTHN) October 7, 2020
At all strengths, only Garrett Roe (1.71) had a better primary assists-per-60 than Baumgartner (1.49), with his primary points-per-60 (2.23) placed him eighth.
GT Analytics also felt like the Devils got great value on Baumgartner here:
Devils fans are gonna sleep well tonight. Another solid pick taking Benjamin Baumgartner at 161. Our model had him at 99. Baumgartner is an overager playing in the NLA. He has the best league adjusted assists per game among forwards in this class. pic.twitter.com/gT6a76WX2U— GTAnalytics (@GTAnalytics_) October 7, 2020
Finally, here is what Hockey Prospecting’s model has to say about Baumgartner. I have to admit those comparables are all over the place from Kryzstof Oliwa to Dustin Penner to Mats Zuccarello.
A Little Video
In the below video, starting at the 0:33 mark, Scouching starts to talk about Baumgartner and why he should be drafted in the late rounds this year. In it he mentions that despite his size, he’s an asset down the middle due to his defensive game and that on the offensive end, he does a great job at making passes into the high danger scoring areas.
My Initial Reaction to the Pick
I am very happy with this selection as Baumgartner is a potential late bloomer who has started to prove himself in professional hockey already. I don’t mind that he’s an overager and was passed over twice before. This is a player that despite his size, is able to play down the middle and contribute a full 200 ft game. I like that his defensive play is an asset and that he is an excellent playmaker. I really like that a lot of the plays he makes help set up his teammates in quality scoring areas on the ice. I think when you’re picking this late in the draft, it’s a good thing to take a swing on a potential “home run” pick. I think Baumgartner is a player that has been looked over due to his size, where he’s from, and where’s he’s played but has the potential to be a long term contributor in the middle six of a line up should he realize his potential. To get him at 161st overall was excellent value in my opinion. I’m looking forward to see how he performs in his second full season as a pro with HC Davos.
As we update this post with more information later today, please have your say about this prospect in the comments. Are you satisfied with this selection? What are your expectations for this prospect? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!
The Devils drafted center Benjamin Baumgartner at 161st overall. What do you think of the pick?
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