Our 2022 draft coverage continues today with a profile of top German prospect Julian Lutz. Germany has seen a recent upswing in the quality of their national league, the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL), as well as the prospects they have produced. Since 2014, when the Edmonton Oilers selected Leon Draisaitl 3rd overall, 13 German players have been taken in the NHL Draft. 5 of these players were taken in the 1st round with another player taken in the 2nd round. This group includes established NHLers in Draisaitl, Moritz Seider, and Tim Stützle. It also includes prospects such as Dominik Bokk, Lukas Reichel, and John-Jason Peterka. Lutz will hope to become the next big prospect from Germany. This profile will take a look at his background and what scouts have to say about his game.
Who is Julian Lutz?
According to his Elite Prospects profile, Julian Lutz is a 6’2”, 185 lbs. forward from Weingarten, Germany. He was born on February 29, 2004, thus making this past season his age 17 year. He is listed as a left-handed shot and played his youth hockey with EV Ravensburg. Here’s an overview of his career stats via Elite Prospects:
It’s notable to see him join the Red Bull Hockey Academy in Salzburg, Austria at the age of 12 in 2016-17. By the 2018-19 season, his age 14 year, Lutz was already a regular player for the U18 team in the Erste Bank Juniors League (EBJL). He led the team with 28 goals and 60 points and finished 2nd with 32 assists. Lutz’s 2.22 points per game rate were just behind the top Austrian prospect for this year’s draft, Marco Kasper’s 2.40 points per game rate.
He moved up to Red Bull’s top junior team in 2019-20, his age 15 season. That team competed in the DHL Cup which was essentially the Czech U20 league that season. Lutz led the team with 17 goals and was 2nd on the team with 26 points. Those totals also led all U16 players in the league that season. The 17 goals ranked tied-14th for all players in the league. That season also saw Lutz make his debut for Germany on the international scene. He put up 4 goals and 6 assists in 9 games for the U16 team and had 2 goals and 4 assists in 6 games for the U17 team.
In his pre-draft season of 2020-21, Lutz mainly played for the top Red Bull junior team, now playing in the Alps Hockey League (AlpsHL). This league is a professional league that features teams from Austria, Italy, and Slovenia. Lutz produced well in the men’s league with 13 goals and 13 assists in 31 games. Those totals were enough to lead his team in goals and finish 2nd in points. Lutz not only led his U17 age group in scoring but was 2nd overall among U20 players. Lutz even earned a call up to EC Salzburg, one of the flagship teams for Red Bull (with EHC München in Germany being the other). EC Salzburg competes in the ICE Hockey League (ICEHL), Austria’s top-tier league and one that features teams also from Hungary, Italy, and Slovenia. With EC Salzburg, Lutz had 2 goals and an assist in 7 games. Lutz also represented Germany at the U18 World Championship with an assist in 4 games.
Last season, Lutz would move on to EHC München in the DEL. Unfortunately for Lutz, he missed most of the season with “a fatigue fracture of his lumbar spine” according to The Athletic’s Corey Pronman. He did register a goal and 2 assists in 14 games for EHC München which led all U18 players. In international play, Lutz had 2 goals in 4 games for Germany’s U18 team at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup and he had 2 goals and 2 assists in 4 games for Germany at the U18 World Championship.
Elite Prospects list his contract as expired following the 2021-22 season. It seems likely that he stays with EHC München given his rise through the Red Bull Academy and the fact he didn’t get much experience in the DEL last year. If he does want to come to North America, the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL) own his rights after selecting him 116th overall in the 2021 CHL Import Draft.
Where is Julian Lutz Ranked?
It seems most outlets that rank Lutz considers him to be a 2nd to 3rd round prospect:
- #30 European Skaters - NHL Central Scouting (Final Ranking)
- #Honorable Mention (Outside of Top 80) - TSN - Bob McKenzie (Mid-season Ranking)
- #34 - TSN - Craig Button (May Ranking)
- #51 - FC Hockey (Spring Ranking)
- #64 - Draft Prospects Hockey (Spring Ranking)
- #49 - Smaht Scouting (Final Ranking)
What Others Say About Julian Lutz
Since Julian Lutz was limited to just 14 league games and 8 games between the U18 WJC and Hlinka Gretzky Cup, most of the scouting reports on him are a bit old. I was able to find some more recent comments on his game but I’m going to present these reports in chronological order.
First, let’s start with Brock Otten’s 2021 CHL Import Draft Review from July 7, 2021, over at OHL Prospects. That article includes this report on Lutz from Chapin Landvogt, a writer based in Hamburg, Germany for McKeen’s Hockey and EP Rinkside. I’ve edited a few lines from the report for brevity.
“He’s a very heady kid with a strong nose for the goal and a whole lot of power in making his way to it. He can score goals just as well as set them up and spent this past season already showing the world that he’s physically capable and ready to play pro hockey against men, having spent the bulk of the season for Red Bull Academy in the third class AlpsHL...For my taste, he was underwhelming at the U18. Some will say that you could still see that he was clearly one of Germany’s absolute best-schooled and trained players, but I’ve seen him do a lot of special things in generating offensive opportunities - sometimes out of nothing - at the pro level and was very surprised, if not disappointed, that we didn’t really get to see this at the U18. One way or the other, we’re talking about a player who should spend next season making a case to be a first rounder in 2022.”
Of course, the injury that derailed his 2021-22 season would plummet his draft stock from that of a possible 1st rounder to a mid-round prospect. As Landvogt noted, it was encouraging to see Lutz already have professional experience and be set to play his draft season in Germany’s top league. I like reading that he’s a goal scorer and physically capable of playing against men.
Next, we have this game report from Andrew LeBlanc of Draft Prospects Hockey following the August 4, 2021, Hlinka Gretzky Cup game between the United States and Germany. The first aspect of Lutz’s game that LeBlanc notes is speed:
Plays a high energy game looking to catch opponents off guard. Great footspeed, powerful stride. Flies down the left side of the ice with speed and looks to carry into the offensive zone. Generates a lot of chances, drives the play for his team. Some added leg strength could help top end, breakaway speed. Has solid puck control, can make plays at top speed.
LeBlanc also notes that his shot may not be the best but he knows how to use it:
Has a good, not great, shot. Not the strongest, but picks shots wisely and fires. Very creative with his shots, shooting from all angles.
It was also noted that Lutz is a competitor:
Hunts down loose pucks and continuously puts pressure on opposition to move it quickly. A real competitor, never gives up on a play.
One area that Lutz needed to improve after this viewing in LeBlanc’s opinion was his defense:
Needs to work on positioning and awareness on defense. Was caught puck watching as an opposition defenseman glided behind him and tapped in a cross-ice pass. Tries to intercept passes aggressively and counter-attack with speed. Needs to pick his moments as this can be an effective play, but often caught looking silly.
Considering the talent gap between the United States and Germany, I’m not surprised that his game report was a bit of a mixed bag for Lutz. I was encouraged to read that he knows how to best utilize his shot and never gives up on a play. Defensive miscues are something that can be corrected with coaching and more ice time in practice and games.
The next report we have on Lutz comes from Colton Davies of FC Hockey on October 31, 2021. The report has these quotes from FC Hockey regional scout Miroslav Simurka in the opening paragraphs to provide an overview of Lutz’s game:
“He’s is a big, hard forechecking winger with good offensive skills,” FCHockey regional scout Miroslav Simurka said.
“He is fast, quick, mobile, can get around defenses with quick turns, stops, direction changes or simply by his speed. Lutz is a fun to watch player. He is also a solid stickhandler, controls the puck in full speed, is successful with the puck in tight areas, drawing oppositions attention, having always head up and then passing the puck in the lanes he created.”
In noting his strengths, the report mentions that:
“Lutz’s combination of speed, aggression, and work ethic allowed him to get in on the forecheck to disrupt the opposition’s breakout and generate turnovers, which in turn led to either prolonged offensive zone possessions or forced dump outs by opposing puck carriers,” FCHockey regional scout Brandon Holmes said.
In noting areas that Lutz needs to improve, the report mentions that:
“His shots can find opposing shin pads more often than the goalie, when passing lanes are available to allow his team to maintain possession,” FCHockey regional scout Joshua Frojelin said. “Also, Lutz does not possess immensely high skill or speed, but that never stopped him from challenging opponents in transition.
It certainly seems for what Lutz may lack in high-end skill, he makes up through hard work. I get the impression he could be a nice complementary piece for an NHL team that wants to add a physical winger that can help drive play to their bottom 6.
Now we can move on to a more recent report on Lutz’s game from Hadi Kalakeche of Dobber Prospects last month. He describes Lutz’s game:
A high motor and great skating foundations define Lutz’s game. He does a great job of hunting down puck-carriers and disrupting their attempts to skate the puck towards the offensive zone, while also being able to take his foot off the gas when the situation warrants it. He battles hard in front of the net, makes his stick available for deflections and rebounds, and is adept at gaining body positioning on his opponents. The main issue with Lutz is just a lack of pop in his game — his shot is OK, his passing is average, and his stickhandling is just good, but none of his puck skills stand out as remarkable tools that can be developed into above-average assets at the NHL level. I see Lutz as a versatile forward who can chip in defensively and pile up the occasional point, while manning a third line and a second power-play unit.
The good news is that Lutz’s injury didn’t impact his effectiveness as a forechecker or intense competitor. Unfortunately, it seems the lost developmental time has led to most of Lutz’s skills staying at their level before the 2021-22 season.
Finally, we have this report from Jason Bukala of Sportsnet on May 4, 2022. This is following the recent U18 WJC:
He moves well and brings size (6-foot-2, 179 pounds) and skill to the equation. On the power play he showed he can one time pucks and score goals. This is a player who might be flying under the radar a bit and I believe showed enough to come under consideration in the second round of the draft. Big bodies who extend plays, battle, and have skill are a wanted commodity.
In terms of playstyle, this seems to back up the other reports but does seem to think he may have a slightly higher ceiling than those reports as Bukala notes Lutz could be worth a 2nd round pick.
A Little Video
There isn’t much video out there on Lutz due to all the time he missed but we do have this shift-by-shift video from Germany vs. Sweden at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup last August. Look for #18 in black.:
His 2nd shift, starting at 0:38, features Lutz making a strong play on the forecheck to steal the puck and eventually help his team get a shot attempt. On that same shift, he also did well to help regain possession of the puck in the neutral zone for Germany before one of his teammates turned the puck over on a zone entry attempt. However, he wasn’t able to apply much pressure on his man in the defensive zone when Sweden gained control of the puck and that ended up leading to a goal against.
His shift starting at 6:55 saw him do well to gain possession of a loose puck after a faceoff and turn towards the center of the zone to get a shot off with some traffic in front of the net.
His shift starting at 10:48 saw Lutz do well to make a clean zone entry despite not having much space to work with and then fire a pass into the slot that went for a shot.
His shift starting at 11:50 saw him open himself up for a one-timer following a German faceoff win on the PP. Later in that shift, with the puck on the other end of the ice, he helped facilitate a zone exit and zone entry for Germany as they went back on the attack.
His shift starting at 12:43 saw Lutz drive towards the net without possession to act as a net-front presence.
At 16:15, with his team down a goal late in the game, Lutz did well to open himself up as an outlet for his teammate that gained possession behind the goal but was unable to convert on his shot attempt.
Check out his goals from Germany’s game against Canada at the U18 WJC in April. He can definitely rip it:
An Opinion of Sorts
Given how much time he missed in his draft season, it can be hard to gauge just how good of a prospect Julian Lutz is. In my opinion, Lutz is certainly a prospect that an NHL team should include on their draft board. When it comes to his game, I like that he has a pro-style frame that he can continue to grow into. I like that for a larger wing, he can skate well, pick his spots with his shot, fire off a solid one-timer, and compete hard in all areas of the ice. He seems to have the makings of a solid bottom 6 wing at the NHL level that can disrupt the opposition in transition, help drive play for his line, and provide some secondary scoring. He seems like the type of player that would be a really solid depth piece on a playoff team at the NHL level. His ceiling may be a bit limited but he seems to have a solid enough skill base to raise his floor. The fact he already has extensive professional experience is a big plus in my opinion.
My main concerns with him come down to his defensive zone play and the impact that his injury had on such a crucial developmental year. Watching Lutz, it’s obvious that he’s engaged in the play and wants to make the right reads defensively but is prone to losing his coverage. Fortunately, that is a deficit in his game that could improve through coaching and more experience. When it comes to the time missed due to injury, we’ll just have to wait and see how his development unfolds over the next few seasons. I’m interested in seeing what the future holds for Lutz and I wouldn’t mind if it was with the Devils organization.
What are your thoughts on Julian Lutz? Would you have him on your draft board? If so, do you think he would be worth a 2nd round pick or would you consider him more of a mid to late-round prospect? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!