Germany goes into this draft on a high after recently watching Moritz Seider deservedly scoop up the accolade as last season’s top NHL rookie. What this effectively means is that the very top of the hockey world is growing, with more countries able to produce not only NHL talent but top-end NHL talent.
Unfortunately for Germany, Slovakia seems to have regained some of their former glory, meaning they are currently the hippest talk of the town, much like Switzerland was around Timo Meier’s/Nico Hischier’s years and Denmark maaaybe was around the Mikkel Boedker/Lars Eller drafts.
For Germany, the hockey revolution we’re now seeing started off with Leon Draisaitl in 2014. Watching Big Leon become one of the biggest stars of the game has certainly influenced younger players like Seider, Tim Stützle, Lukas Reichel, Dominik Bokk, JJ Peterka, and Luca Münzenberger into believing that they too can reach the stars, even if they’re not born in hockey metropolises Québec, Minnesota or Örnsköldsvik.
This year, the one hopeful soul about to carry on the ongoing German hockey revolution is EHC Munich’s Julian Lutz.
Birthplace: Weingarten, Germany
Date of birth: February 29, 2004
Position: Left Wing
Weight: 190 lbs.
Team: EHC Red Bull München (DEL)
Talking about late risers, Lutz had the majority of his draft season spoiled by a fractured bone in his back. When he returned in February, he quickly demonstrated talents that should make him a coveted player come July 8.
His playing style is mature and solid, with his overall serenity and skating pace standing out for a player of his size and role. He doesn’t get jittery when pressured, instead remains cool as a cucumber and, much like a good soccer regista, he doesn’t have to be the flashiest playmaker to make his line, and his entire team, tick. It almost feels like he appreciates getting the opposition up in his face since that ends up leaving more space open for his teammates to work with.
Is he an offensive juggernaut? No, he isn’t. At least not yet. He managed to register one goal and two assists during the 14 games he was healthy for this — his first — season with Munich’s top team. This also largely explains why some analysts are hesitant about Lutz. It’s not that he doesn’t show promise when he plays, but with such little battle test, do you even know what you’re fully getting in him?
In 2020-21, he was fully healthy and impressed while playing with EHC München’s little, alpine, Red Bull, baby brother in the obscure AlpsHL. Operating out of Salzburg, RB Juniors operates as a development team for the Red Bull hockey program. Lutz will be yet another success story for the energy drink consortium and owner Dietrich Mateschitz, after having JJ Peterka drafted 34th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in 2020.
Elite Prospects: #37
Bob McKenzie (TSN): #49
NHL Central Scouting: #30 (European Skaters)
Corey Pronman (The Athletic) #44
Scott Wheeler (The Athletic): #54
Still, how much can you take from a prospect impressing in the AlpsHL, a hockey league consisting of a gallimaufry of teams from Italy, Slovenia and Austria? In 2021, Hamilton native Francesco Pinelli got tired of Covid stopping him from getting valuable game time with the Kitchener Rangers, so he travelled to Europe and joined Slovenian side Hokejsko drsalno društvo Jesenice. During his 13-game stint, he ended up with similar statistics to what Lutz performed for RB Juniors that same season. This year, being back in the comfort of his home environment, Pinelli was a point-per-game player for the Rangers, in the regular season as well as during the playoffs.
It is perhaps in that light you should look at Lutz’s accomplishments. After all, he did perform comparatively well to Pinelli while being a year younger than his Canadian counterpart. The fact that he didn’t light it up in the DEL could be largely attributed to his return from a pretty significant injury and how it, even in a normal year, takes a while to get up to speed with the higher tempo of playing in a better environment. Accept this last season as one of adjustment and adaptation and get intrigued by the overall skill set Lutz demonstrated while on the ice. If he stays healthy, there will be plenty of time to iron out a role for him where he can provide a more consistent offensive product.
Will Julian Lutz ever be a first-line NHL power forward? I wouldn’t bet my house on it. However, analysts talk about there certainly being a role for him on a future NHL lineup. Teams continue to search for the next great power forward, who can hold possession and by that compliment a line consisting of smaller, more technical guys. Lutz may very well end up as a good bet in that category.
If developed properly and if he continues to stay healthy, a team may end up having a swift-skating, middle-six, three-zone winger on their hands sooner than expected.