Player: Tim Stützle
Team: Adler Mannheim (DEL)
Today we’ll be looking at Tim Stützle, a tremendously skilled forward who looks to follow the footsteps of Moritz Seider by becoming a Top 10 draft pick coming out of the German DEL. Stützle, who led the DNL in scoring pace last season with 55 points in 21 games, is off to a hot start to begin his German professional career, and in turn has turned heads across the scouting community as a potential Top 10 talent in the 2020 NHL Draft. Stützle is a speedy and cunning forward, and we’ll be examining his play in depth using the following six attributes: Skating, Puck Skills, Passing Ability, Hockey Sense, Shooting Ability, and Physicality.
Grades are laid out on a scale that reads as follows:
20 – Terrible
25 – Very Poor
30 – Poor
35 – Bad
40 – Well-below Average
45 – Below Average
50 – Average
55 – Above Average
60 – High-end
65 – Elite
70 – World Class
75 – Special
80 – Generational
Stützle’s skating ability is what makes him a truly special prospect, as his speed and agility both place his skating ability among the top of this class. Stützle possesses dynamic speed that he regularly uses to drive possession and create offensive opportunities and zone entries. He explodes out of his crossovers and can generate speed in a hurry with excellent acceleration and a fluid stride, which makes him a deadly transition player. He’s often willing to take the puck up the ice himself and go coast-to-coast, which can be seen in the following clip where he corrals the puck behind his own net and quickly carries the puck up the ice, evading defenders in the neutral zone and beating them wide in order to secure a zone entry for his team (#8 in Blue):
His speed and elusiveness often allow him to secure zone entries, and in turn for Jungadler Mannheim in the DNL, he was often the primary puck carrier on the powerplay. You can see a similar play in the following clip, where he once again picks up the puck deep in his own zone and is able to beat checkers wide in the neutral zone before securing a zone entry, showing good speed, balance, and edgework along the way (#8 in Blue):
Stützle has the raw skating ability to put pressure on defenses and cause distress in a multitude of ways, and the forecheck is no exception in addition to his tenacity. He’s quick on pucks and works hard to make plays and cause turnovers, which can be seen in the following play. He pokes the puck away from an opposing player and is able to retrieve possession before curling around and getting the puck to his defenseman, whose shot from the point is able to find twine (#8 in White):
Stützle works very hard and has a high motor, which amplifies his skating ability as his hustle allows his legs to work at full effectiveness. This can also make him a dangerous player on the penalty kill, as his work ethic and speed allow him to generate scoring opportunities whilst shorthanded as well. In the following clip, Stützle gets in quickly on an opposing player at his own blue line and is able to use his speed to generate an odd-man rush, where he eventually picks up the shorthanded goal (#8 in Blue):
The next clip is just a beautiful play that shows the multi-dimensions of Stützle’s skating ability. As he explodes out his own zone with the puck and is able to beat multiple defenders before securing yet another zone entry. Take note of how fluid his stride is as he’s able to build speed quickly while also being able to show good agility in the offensive zone as he shifts his weight to change the angle on defenders (#8 in Blue):
Stützle’s game is built upon his base of elite speed and explosiveness, which becomes even more dangerous when you factor in his puck skills.
Puck Skills: 65
Stützle possesses the obvious speed advantage over his peers, however, what makes him truly dangerous is his ability to make highly skilled plays at full speed. While carrying the puck at top speed, you often see Stützle cradling the puck and keeping it moving in order to increase his elusiveness and shiftiness. It’s very hard for defenders to read where Stützle will go with the puck when he’s moving at top speed, and in turn, they often take the cautious approach, backing off of him while he’s barreling down on them. In the following clip, Stützle is able to carry the puck through the neutral zone and back down defenders, before making a quick cut with his legs and hands to secure the zone entry and set up an offensive zone possession. It’s a subtle play, but not one that’s easy to make while moving at the speed Stützle is. Also, take note of how he constantly keeps the puck moving to open up ice (#8 in Blue):
I often teeter on if Stützle’s puck skills are truly elite or just high-end, however, it’s plays like the following clip that makes me lean towards the latter. While carrying the puck deeper into the zone, a defender steps up on him and Stützle makes him pay by shifting up with his legs and making the defender miss with his hands before finishing with a beautiful move on the goaltender (#8 in Blue):
Offense runs through Stützle because of how potent he is with his ability to carry the puck. His speed, skill, and vision allow him to exploit holes in opposing defenses with regularity, as he’s able to recognize gaps in the defense and burst through those holes with his skating ability and hands. The following play is an excellent example of that, as he carries the puck for Mannheim on the powerplay and is able to burst in between two defenders with his speed while also evading their sticks with his hands and puck skills. He curls up and eventually gets the puck high in the zone, where he steps into the offensive zone before sending a pass in front for an assist (#8 in Blue):
In that clip, we also get a glimpse into Stützle’s potent ability as a playmaker and his precise passing ability.
Stützle’s passing ability is high-end, as he’s capable of making precise and difficult passes with his creative abilities and offensive zone vision. He can make passes from low-to-high, through the seam, and into tight pockets in the slot to find teammates. On this play, you can see how Stützle’s passing ability plays off the cycle game, as he’s able to grab the puck down low and send an accurate pass from behind the goal line in front to a teammate for an easy one-time goal (#8 in White):
His ability as a passer is amplified by how skilled and intelligent he is as an attacker. He’s able to read and react to what defenses and coverage are giving him while simultaneously having the puck skills to deliver creative and accurate passes to teammates. You can see on this play, where Stützle surveys the zone from the top of the powerplay and is able to identify an aerial passing route through the seam. This is a difficult pass for a player to make, as his puck skills and soft hands allow his saucer pass to land accurately on the tape of his teammate. Although the initial shot doesn’t end up in the back of the net, the puck eventually finds its way into the net for a secondary assist (#8 in Blue):
This clip is more of the same, as he’s able to make a similar read and makes a saucer pass to a teammate, who makes no mistake going top shelf on the netminder (#8 in Blue):
More often than not, it’s plays like this that allow Stützle’s passing ability stand out. Beyond his raw passing ability, however, it’s his smarts that allow him to take his playmaking ability to another level.
Hockey Sense: 60
Stützle is a very intelligent attacker and is able to think as quickly as he can move and stick handle. As seen in the previous clips of his passing ability, his vision is top-notch and he’s able to understand how to break apart defenses and identify soft spots on the ice for scoring opportunities. He’s very poised with the puck on his stick and consistently has his head up looking for plays, and in turn, is often able to wait out defensemen to open seams in the offensive zone. The following clip demonstrates how he’s able to wait out his opposition, as he takes a cross-ice pass from his teammate and, rather than shooting the puck, he’s able to wait out the nearside defenseman in order to open up the passing lane in front for an easy tap-in goal (#8 in Blue):
Stützle is a quick thinker with crisp passing ability who is remarkably hard for defenses to account for due to his awareness on the ice. He’s able to read and react quickly, and in turn, is able to capitalize quickly when defenders overcommit to his side of the ice. This assist is another great example of how Stützle can punish an over-challenging defenseman, as he’s able to find the open man for an easy goal after the defender is guilty of overplaying his side of the ice (#8 in Blue):
His ability to read the play also translates into a more subtle way on the scoring side of the puck. Touching on how he’s able to identify soft spots in coverage, he has the intellectual wherewithal to go to the areas of the ice to make himself available for scoring opportunities. This clip from the Champions Hockey League is a good example of that, as he finds his way into soft coverage and is able to make himself available for a one-time shot (#8 in Blue):
His ability to wait for open ice and recognize a developing play can also be found in his first DEL goal (#8 in White):
Stützle’s smarts afford him the ability to be a dual-threat as both a goal-scorer and playmaker, with his shot also allowing him the opportunity to score from distance.
I grapple between calling Stützle’s shot high-end or just above average, and for now, I’ll conservatively settle on the latter. More often than not, Stützle scores his goals from closer to the net by getting himself into scoring areas, however, he has shown on occasion the ability to score from the outside on netminders as well. His first professional goal in the Champions Hockey League is an excellent example of what his shooting ability can be at it’s best, as he takes the puck on the powerplay from the left point and is able to wire a shot over the shoulder of the Vienna netminder (#8 in Blue):
He generates good power off of his release and is able to pick his spot, popping the goalie’s bottle in the process. Stützle’s sweet spot from distance appears to be walking in from that left point on the powerplay, however, at times he has operated as a trigger man on his off-wing as a one-time option. This goal in the DNL shows his ability to one-time the puck, as he powers home a 5-on-3 goal from the right circle (#8 in Blue):
Stützle, at the moment, owns a somewhat slight frame, as he currently stands at approximately 5’11” and 165 lbs. His frame, at times, causes him to lose puck battles and muscled off the puck or knocked off balance by larger opponents. However, Stützle is able to mitigate his size disadvantage, to a degree, with his non-stop motor. As mentioned earlier, Stützle is a very hard-working kid who doesn’t shy away from a puck battle or dirty areas of the ice, and in turn, is able to occasionally win puck battles with sheer work ethic rather than brawn. Stützle is a skilled kid who won’t often need to rely on his physical attributes, however, it doesn’t hurt that he’s willing to work hard in order to mitigate his size disadvantages.
All-in-all, Stützle appears to be next in line for what appears to be a German hockey renaissance, as he attempts to become the 3rd German player to be drafted in the Top 10 of the NHL since 2014. An emerging star in the German pro ranks, Stützle currently sits on most draft boards somewhere between 6th and 15th Overall, and possesses an outside chance to creep into the Top 5 of the NHL Draft should he continue his strong play in the DEL.
Tim Stützle currently sits at #7 on DraftGeek.ca’s most recent Draft Rankings, which can be found here.