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2020 World Junior Hockey Championship: Team Germany preview & roster

The Germans bring a surprising amount of skill to the WJC after a four-year absence.

Ice Hockey WM: Czech Republic - Germany Photo by Monika Skolimowska/picture alliance via Getty Images

Each year at the World Junior Hockey Championship, one team gets relegated from the International Ice Hockey Federation’s Top Division, a disappointing result for a team that fought hard to hang among the top 10 nations in the world. On the flipside, that spot gets taken by a country that wins a championship of its own, claiming top spot in Division IA.

In 2019, that was Team Germany, which won all five of the games it played, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 22-5. The win earned them their first promotion to the Top Division since 2015.

Germany has bounced around between the Top Division and the second tier since the tournament officially began in 1977, and in the past 20 years have never finished higher than ninth. This year the goal will be to take advantage of the quality young prospects the program possesses to make more of a splash.

Team Germany final roster

# Player Position League Current team (NHL)
# Player Position League Current team (NHL)
29 Tobias Ancicka G Jr. A SM-Liiga Lukko U20
1 Hendrik Hane G DEL Düsseldorfer EG
30 Philipp Maurer G DNL U20 EV Landshut U20
27 Alexander Dersch D DEL Düsseldorfer EG
6 Niklas Heinzinger D DNL U20 2 EC Bad Tölz U20
7 Leon Hüttl D DEL2 Löwen Frankfurt
25 Philipp Mass D AlpsHL RB Hockey Juniors
28 Eric Mik D DEL2 Lausitzer Füchse
21 Moritz Seider D AHL Grand Rapids Griffins (DET)
5 Daniel Wirt D DEL2 Löwen Frankfurt
26 Dominik Bokk F SHL Rögle BK (CAR)
14 Louis Brune F DEL2 Heilbronner Falken
13 Tim Fleischer F DEL Iserlohn Roosters
18 Taro Jentzsch F QMJHL Sherbrooke Phoenix
16 Nino Kinder F WHL Winnipeg ICE
19 Dennis Lobach F Germany3 SC Riessersee
11 Jan Nijenhuis F DEL Grizzlys Wolfsburg
24 John-Jason Peterka F DEL EHC München (2020)
23 Lukas Reichel F DEL Eisbären Berlin (2020)
12 Luis Schinko F DEL2 Löwen Frankfurt
10 Justin Schütz F DEL EHC München (FLA)
8 Tim Stützle F DEL Adler Mannheim (2020)
22 Yannik Valenti F DEL2 Heilbronner Falken

Strengths

It’s not often the case in a format that sees teams qualify for the Top Division one year and have to wait until the next to compete with the top nations, but Germany’s roster will boast its top three scorers from the 2019 Division IA squad; three of the top four point-getters in the tournament.

All three have been drafted by NHL clubs. Justin Schütz was a sixth-round pick of the Florida Panthers, and the other two were first-round selections. Dominik Bokk, who led all players with eight points in the 2019 Division IA tournament, was selected 25th overall in 2018 by the St. Louis Blues. It hasn’t been an easy year for him in the SHL, but playing all season at such a high level will have him well prepared for the tournament.

The Detroit Red Wings surprised a lot of people when they picked Moritz Seider at sixth overall in June, the highest placement for a German prospect since Leon Draisaitl went third overall back in 2014, but Seider was tabbed as a top-end prospect before the draft. His play at the international U20 level certainly boosted his stock, then two goals at the World Championship secured a high spot for the defenceman.

Weaknesses

Such high quality doesn’t extend very deep into the pool of players available. That will especially be felt on defence, where Seider is going to be leaned on heavily to provide both defence and offence.

Few of the defencemen named to the team even play in the country’s top league. Most were plucked from the second tier, or playing in Junior leagues. The blue line is the weakest cog in the German machine, and it’s going to take some critical work from the coaching staff to not only make sure they select the best defenders currently on the preliminary roster, but devise a system that can make up for some flaws on the back end.

X-Factor

Germany’s fortunes may depend on how a few of their draft-eligible players can perform on the big stage. John-Jason Peterka and Lukas Reichel are 17-year-olds producing well in the DEL, and could have an important impact.

The player draft nuts will be zeroing in on is forward Tim Stützle, currently pegged as a top-10 prospect for the 2020 NHL Draft after a great start to his season. Nearly a point-per-game player on a strong Adler Mannheim team, he’s achieved that level of production at every level he’s played in his lifetime, including his team-leading performance last year at the IIHF’s U18 level where the teenagers replicated the result of their more senior brethren by advancing to the elite class. By the end of the tournament, many more people will know his name, and he could even use the event to jump up a spot or two in the draft order.