A slow and steady riser who might have been a borderline first-round pick at the start of the season, Tim Stützle moved up to a top-15, to a top-10, and lately top-three pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. A lot of the movement has to do with his fantastic World Junior Championship performance where he dominated for the German team and got five assists in as many games.
Stützle lined up for his Adler Mannheim in both the domestic DEL and the international Champions Hockey League, and impressed in both tournaments. The winger (or centre) has shown at different levels that he is the real deal and that he is strong on all phases of the game, especially in the offensive zone or while gaining the blue line as his control and skating benefit him with the puck on his stick. There have been some questions about his defensive-zone work, but his hockey IQ and having played this season on the wing has made it easy for him to transition to the pro leagues.
His WJC was good, but it also showcased a weakness, either in his confidence or a physical weakness, since he didn’t score one goal during the tournament.
What really stands out in Stützle’s game, is his speed. He gets up to top speed with ease and what is even more impressive is that he can handle the puck while there. His quick edge work makes him dangerous in all situations and many defenders have been fooled by his feet, hands and mind. Everything Stützle does involves his speed. He uses it to get open and create space for his teammates that he then can find open thanks to his vision.
While the forward is an offence-first player, he also seems to be a pass-first player, something that could be considered a weakness as his shot really is good, but he doesn’t seem to use it enough. If this is due to a lack of confidence at professional level it might be something that can be used to devastating effect with a bit more maturity and confidence.
Skating, skating, and more skating, Stützle has amazing speed and technique on the blades. He can turn on a dime and he can cut either way — much to the despair of the defenders. The fact is that while his skating skill is mentioned everywhere it is equally impressive that his hands and brain functions at the same level of speed. Stützle is arguably one of the best skaters in the class and he has shown that he can use it at a professional level already, a bit in the DEL and against other European teams in the Champions Hockey League.
Most coaches talk about hockey mind, or hockey IQ, and if it’s one thing that Stützle has in spades it’s just that. He can read the play very well and he uses this to his benefit to intercept passes and cause turnovers. This lets him start counter attacks and break up the ice thanks to his great skating.
His vision and pass-first mentality usually gives his teammates a good chance to finish with a goal, as Stützle can hold onto the puck, thereby creating more space for his teammates. While the pass-first player that he seems to be can be used against him, I choose to see him as a player who thinks about the teams success first and his own success later. His confidence is high — as it should be, and a setback doesn’t seem to faze him. He only tries harder to make it right during the next shift.
His shot, or rather his infrequent use of it, is a weakness to me. As discussed above, it is unknown if his usage is due to a lack of confidence in his own ability to shoot or if it’s down to his strength in the passing game. While the winger/centre competed against pros and didn’t score often, he left the WJC with no goals to his name, and this could be a worrying factor for someone that looks to be drafted in the top three of this year’s draft.
Much like Jesperi Kotkaniemi, he spent the full season on the wing, learning by playing a mens game. But he is projected as a centre, and as fans of the Blue-Blanc-Rouge know, the transition to the next level can be demanding.
Another weakness is the quality of the DEL, and this is no fault of Stützle himself. While the quality of the league has improved lately it is tough the see where he is in regards to his peers at the same age, and what it means for his future development and projection. The coach of Adler Mannheim, Mr. Pavel Goss, draws a parallel to Moritz Seider in that he will need a year in the AHL, as a club will not let a player develop in DEL after the draft.
Elite Prospects: #8
Future Considerations: #3
Hockey Prospect: #3
ISS Hockey: #2
McKeen’s Hockey: #3
NHL Central Scouting: #1 (European skaters)
There is no doubt that Tim Stützle is an NHL player in the making, and he will go top three in the 2020 draft without a doubt. The question is how to project him. There is next to no draft prospects coming out of DEL and it would have been a lot easier to project Stützle’s impact and career if he had done like Dominik Bokk and gone to a stronger league during his draft year.
Still, his skating, hands and mind is exceptional and he will benefit any NHL team in the future. However, does a team draft him as a winger or as a centre? If the team thinks he is a centre in the making, he might go as number two before Quinton Byfield. If the team thinks Stützle is a winger, then he will go as number three.
For Adler Mannheim coach Goss’s full comments, as well as insights from German U20 National Team player and Carolina Hurricanes prospect Bokk and Swiss hockey scout and writer Mr. Thomas Roost, check out the latest episode of “The Dispatch.”