The 2020 NHL Draft is set to a feature a number of talented young players to be infused into the league. While the New Jersey Devils currently sit sixth in terms of draft position (with some season hopefully to go), things can always change via the lottery. Nothing seems certain after the first pick, and players always rise and fall depending upon how each team values them. One player who should be highly values come this year’s class is Tim Stutzle.
Who is Tim Stutzle?
Tim Stutzle was born on January 15, 2002 in Viersen, Germany; he stands at either 6’ or 6’1” (depending upon which website you use) and weighs in at 187 lbs. He is a versatile forward in terms of positioning; some sites list him as a center while NHL central scouting lists him at left wing. The more important fact here is that as of the last round of NHL rankings, he was viewed as the top skating prospect out of Europe, yet his overall draft positioning was not unanimous, but we’ll touch more upon that a bit later.
Stutzle has come up through the German hockey leagues, most recently playing for Adler Manheim of the DEL, the highest league there. He contributed 7 goals and 27 assists in 41 games this past season. He also represented his country well internationally this past season, at a point per game or better in two different tournaments. These showings have only helped to keep his stock high, if not raise it, as the 2020 NHL Draft approaches.
His full stats can be seen courtesy of Elite Prospects at this link.
Where is Tim Stutzle Ranked?
As I mentioned before, while NHL has Stutzle listed as the consensus best skater coming from Europe, his overall status isn’t unanimous. Here is a sampling of where Stutzle is ranked by some prominent hockey organizations:
NHL Central Scouting (European Skaters) - #1 (Midterm Rank)
HockeyProspect - #3 (January)
ISS - #2 (March)
EliteProspects - #8 (February)
Future Considerations - #3 (March)
McKeen’s Hockey - #3 (Midseason)
The strange ranking here ironically comes from Elite Prospects, which has Stutzle much lower than the other sites viewed. While Stutzle probably isn’t going to be so highly coveted that he would go first (or even second overall), he’s going to be one of the names mentioned in that next tier of prospects available. If the New Jersey Devils were to remain at sixth overall (their first round pick is currently here due to their current record), there’s a chance that Stutzle could be available when they take the stage. More than likely though he goes off the board within the top three, with a top five selection seeming like the worst case.
What Others Say About Tim Stutzle
Sportsnet had a feature piece on Stutzle around the same time as the midterm rankings started to come out for this year’s crop of prospects. While the article touches upon other prospects, as the bigger arc is discussing the next wave of talented German hockey players, it is Stutzle who takes the article’s spotlight. The article does speak to some of Stutzle’s better qualities, both in terms of points and also other aspects he brings to a team:
And with scouts and general managers having made their yearly pilgrimage to the under-20 tournament, Stutzle hasn’t disappointed. The forward has five assists in five games, runs his team’s power play and is an assassin-like threat every time he touches the puck.
While he did not notch a goal in the U20, it’s encouraging to see how much of a threat he is described as being with the puck; the fact that he can run a power play as well is another positive for a player still so young. And yet, as the article continues, that’s not all he brings:
There’s constant chatter that comes with draft hype — a top-10 selection seems likely at this point — but at least for now, those around Stutzle have been impressed with how his feet have stayed firmly on the ground.
“It’s unbelievable the way he’s dealing with that,” German head coach Tobias Abstreiter said. “He’s a very good character guy. He knows what’s important. It doesn’t affect him.
“At this age, it’s very impressive.”
Polite and soft-spoken, Stutzle doesn’t like discussing himself. He’s allowed his play on the ice at an event where many teammates and opponents are two years his senior tell the story.
The levity and humility with which he is described (and possesses as seen in a quote from Tim himself later in the article) shows a player who is grounded and willing to put the team first. Character guys are always helpful to have in a locker room; when you have one that is also an extremely talented point contributor, that’s a player who can help his team on any given night, one way or another.
Dobber Prospects has a couple of blurbs about the type of player Stutzle is as well; their summary of him simply states:
An average-sized offensive forward with excellent speed and quickness. A great playmaker who also knows how to finish his chances. A natural center but has been frequently used at wing. High offensive upside but doesn’t provide much help in peripheral stats.
To break this down a bit, I don’t think anyone would argue Stutzle is average in size; his point totals from this past season also agree with him being termed a playmaker. Speed is a necessity in today’s NHL, and high offensive upside is readily apparent. The final line is a bit of cause for concern, but a larger blurb from Jokke Nevalainen later on Stutzle’s page almost seems to assuage some fears:
Stützle is an excellent skater who combines high-end speed with incredible quickness. He also has quick hands which make him dangerous in one-on-one situations. He makes sharp and accurate passes, and although known as a pass-first player, he also owns a dangerous wrist shot. On top of all that, Stützle is a very quick thinker which allows him to process plays at top speed and even when he is pressured. Stützle is known as an offensive forward but he has shown significant improvement in his play without the puck and isn’t a defensive liability. He is hungry for loose pucks and has shown great effort in puck-battles when he’s trying to steal the puck. Stützle has a pretty good understanding of his defensive responsibilities and he doesn’t cheat from those.
It seems, perhaps that the first blurb may need some updating, as Nevalainen states that Stutzle has shown improvement on his play away from the puck. The fact that he battles for pucks, and doesn’t shy away from his responsibilities in his own end is another desirable trait in a highly ranked prospect.
A Little Video
Now let’s head over to the visual side of things, starting with a somewhat large highlight video from just a few months ago of Stutzle’s play:
The ride starts right at the nine second mark, as Manheim (in white) enters the zone; Stutzle gets a bit of daylight in the middle of the ice and he puts home a great goal, demonstrating the wrist shot spoken of so highly above.
His passing ability comes into display nicely around the minute and a half mark; with a man advantage, Manheim breaks down the opposing defense, and Stutzle and a teammate take advantage of an essential two on one.
Next we have a video of DEL highlights from this past season:
There’s quite a bit of highlight film of Stutzle on YouTube; I won’t go into all of it, nor will I break down every moment in both of the above videos. I leave it easily accessible here for all of to create your own opinion of the player; but now for mine.
An Opinion of Sorts
If he’s available when the Devils come to the podium for the first time at the 2020 Draft (whenever it may be) I would be happy if Tim Stutzle was the team’s pick, provided that they don’t win first overall again. I don’t believe Stutzle to be in the same tier as Alexis Lafreniere, and many don’t see him going before Quinton Byfield either. However, it should be noted that Byfield, by many accounts, struggled at this past year’s World Juniors. The most recent NHL Mock Draft on their site saw Mike Morreale believe Stutzle to be the second overall choice.
Positional need also needs to be taken into consideration here; the Devils should hopefully be set down the middle going forward with Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes. Taking a talented winger like Stutzle could help to make the Devils a more balanced team. It additionally could help them to fill a positional need right now, as with the trades sending Taylor Hall and Blake Coleman elsewhere, the Devils could use another talented left shooter in their Top 6.
Speed, quick shooting, humility and leadership ability (both on and off ice) are as I stated earlier, desirable traits. Ego has no place in hockey; a superstar can’t carry a team by themselves. Additionally, the Devils are, and have always been about the team being more important than the individual. Stutzle has all the tools to be a great player for a long time; again if he’s the pick, I would be more than happy with the choice.
What thoughts do you have regarding Tim Stutzle? Do you believe he will be a top three choice in this draft? Would you want to see the Devils take him with their first choice? Is there anything you have seen or heard about Tim that makes him a more desirable draft choice? Anything that would make you wary of choosing him? Leave any and all comments below and thanks as always for reading!