NHL Draft Prospects: Germany

 

For the first time in the Draft history, there could be more than one player from Germany drafted in the 1st round. Coming out of the DEL, Tim Stützle, Lukas Reichel and John-Jason Peterka have all the upsides to get called up on stage on the first day in Montreal this upcoming June. The sport is growing and German talents will soon become recurrent. This trio will surely become historical for Germany and inspire a lot of kids out there to play the game. Julian Lutz, Roman Kechter and Luca Hauf are all young guys from this country to keep an eye for the upcoming years. But first, here is what makes these three Germans interesting for the 2020 NHL Draft.


Tim Stützle – Adler Mannheim: LW / 6’1 / 187lbs (January 15th 2002)

Tim Stützle no longer needs a presentation. He is obviously the best player from the trio and it is reflected in his statistics. He is at 29 points and almost a point per game in the DEL, which is the best ratio ever recorded by a U18 player in that league. To start this off, he’s an elite skater. When he begins to gain his top-end speed, it becomes pretty laborious to catch him up. He is always in motion and ready to jump forward with his explosive acceleration. It’s not a secret, Stützle is (or at least, one of) the best skaters of this draft class and outspeed opponents is now pretty usual to him. He also possesses an amazing footwork on which he catches defenders by surprise in the corners with his quick stop and start. The key to Stützle’s skating are crossovers. He’s constantly looking to cross his feet, especially on rushes, to acquire his overwhelming high-end speed. Other than balance, he has pretty much zero weakness in his skating abilities. Overall, he’s agile, speedy and dynamic on his skates.

Stützle’s puck skills are also pretty remarkable. He is capable to perform some very outstanding dekes, and all that at high speed. His tremendous hands are able to move the puck really quickly to fool the opponent’s eyes and avoid stickcheckings. The German possesses amazing puck handling skills which astonishes many. Stützle has been complimented by his linemate, former Blackhawk Ben Smith, on how skillful he is and how hard it is to match his talent. Stützle likes to have the puck on his tape and control the offense. Mannheim is aware of his high offensive attributes and that’s why the coaches confine him a scoring role on the top line and place him on the first power play unit. Stützle is just a phenomenal playmaker. Vision, creativity, audaciousness, he has it all to pick assists and be a dominant offensive machine. He is so intelligent that even his linemates have difficulty to keep up with his playmaking. Stützle is able to easily carry the puck north-south and deke his way around to the net. He as well executes perfect saucer, stretch and lob passes. He can set up goals all by himself and make eye-catching plays. Stützle rarely shoot and he is always looking to distribute the puck to an open teammate. Clearly has a passing first mentality. He owns a nice wrist shot but struggles to score when a goalie awaits his release; too often shoots in the goalie’s chest or just tries to make a pass instead of taking the shot. Though, he’s still decent at opening himself up and finishing a play. You easily get charmed by the guy due to his limitless talent and huge offensive upsides. He is such a skilled player that holds a true wow and one of a kind factor.

During interviews, Stützle mentioned several times that McDavid is his favorite player and that he tries to forge his play style based on the Oilers captain. Playing with speed, prodigious puck handling and unmatchable intelligence. I’m not convinced that he can one day reach McDavid’s greatness but one thing for sure, Stützle will do everything in his power to become an unique and elite NHLer in his own right. His work ethic is just totally irreproachable. He tries to stay as far away as possible from his growing draft hype and just wants to improve everyday to help Mannheim winning. His drive is also incredible. He plays high-tempo every game, every shift. He is tireless and simple to remark since he is constantly implicated in every play. He competes hard and is willing to do everything to get the “3 points” (DEL win in regulation). He’s the first on loose pucks, stay defensively responsible and takes the hit. Furthermore, when Mannheim is about to lose the game, you often see that Stützle tries to do way too much than he usually should. He is just 18 and he already puts a lot of pressure on him to carry his team to the win. For sure, it’s a bad habit but you see that he is really dedicated to win. His skills, attitude and personality will certainly make him a fan favorite and rise Stützle’s draft stock for NHL teams who, I’m pretty sure of it, won’t hesitate a second to select him in the top-3.

It is uncertain that Stützle will comeback as a centerman but no matter his position, his effectiveness and impact on the game won’t be affected. He’ll undoubtedly find a way to let his talent produces numerous points in the NHL. He could easily end up as a franchise player. There aren’t a ton of players who can control and dominate the game as he does. He’s so talented that I have no idea how great he can become at the of the day. Stützle is just a pure gem. I’m completely sold on this guy and I feel that the 2nd overall selection should now be his spot. A great playoff and U18 performance and the German could be in discussions to surpass Laffy.

Stützle’s highlights: https://youtu.be/SWYllWN6F7k 

 

Lukas Reichel – Eisbären Berlin: LW / 6’0 / 172lbs (May 17th 2002)

Among the three Germans, Lukas Reichel is the most unknown and underrated player. An indeed darkhorse and he will become a steal if he slides into the 2nd round. He is currently sitting at 10 goals, 11 assists in 32 games (0.66PPG). There is a real gap between him and Stützle, stats and talent aren’t comparable. While Tim is clearly on another level, Reichel and Peterka are actually pretty close to each other. Different style, but same tier. With a disappointing WJC (also due to the fever that sidelined Stützle for the last two games), Reichel got overshadowed by other players. He didn’t play at all as his usual DEL performance. Floppy feet and poor engagement made him looked like an unspecial prospect. Though, it would be pretty naive to base a solid opinion from his games in Czech Republic.

Skating-wise, Reichel doesn’t get himself noticed too much. He is a decent skater and still has plenty of room to improve. His skating techniques are impressive but they don’t make him the fastest on the ice. Edges, north-south strides and crossovers are perfectly executed. However, his leg power and quickness kills the dream of a speedy forward. Reichel doesn’t move his feet repeatedly fast enough which slows him down considerably. Explosiveness and energy are lacking. He is still a step above DEL speed and above average among prospects but, I want to see much better stuff in the skating area from him. More leg strength could make a big difference in his skating in the future. Nevertheless, he’s a significant smooth skater and really agile on his feet.

Now, time to talk about his staggering skillset. Reichel is a finesse and highly talented guy. Very smooth hands and poised in possession of the puck. Unfortunately, he shies to expose his true offensive skills since he rather keeps his game simple. He just holds in him significant creativeness and playmaking abilities. As a great passer and with great vision, he often surprises with a magnificent manoeuvre that reveals his real playstyle. Playstyle of an offensive guy who both pass and score. With such an accurate shot, Reichel has no difficulty to beat goalies. Nice one-timer, excellent wrist shot and great quick release. He has a fine package to become a sniper. Moreover, he owns another attribute that place him as a legit goal scorer, and as an overall offensive player, and that is his positioning and intelligence. He always gives a pass lane, finds open ice and supports his teammates. Also often gets forgotten as F3 and backdoors. It’s crazy how Reichel is always in good position. He thinks faster than anyone and is permanently a step ahead, even against veterans. He knows where to place himself and what to do to be efficient on the ice. He reacts quickly and anticipates handily, both in defensive and offensive situations. Reichel reads the game well and sees every little detail. He still makes dull mistakes and turnovers that sometimes cost goals but you can notice that he is learning and getting better game after game. His progression his just dazzling. He surprised everyone at the beginning of the year by making it into the DEL and now he is on pace to get about 30 points in a professional league as a rookie. Hockey-IQ is clearly what set him apart from other prospects in my opinion. His smartness is his game breaking aspect that should intrigue a lot of NHL teams. Back in 2014, David Pastrnak fell down to the 25th spot. As right now, I see several similarities to the Czech… Reichel is young and yet, pretty far away from his final product. We’ll see how far his mind can push him.

Despite his fantastic talent, frame is a real issue. At 172lbs, Reichel gets knock down way too easily and it gives him a huge disadvantage in board battles. You can see that he has a hard time against men when it comesdown to the physical aspect of the game, even if he tries his best. Certainly nothing negative to say about drive and competitiveness, they are just great. Isn’t scared to fight in corners, gives a good net presence and battles to get the puck. He has difficulty with his coverage in the defensive zone but at least, you notice he wants to be engaged in his zone. Reichel also has a great attitude. Very calm and passive about the upcoming draft. Of course, he doesn’t get the same attention as Stützle but he still keeps it cool. He has a valuable mentor in his linemate Maxim Lapierre who will help him through this journey. The NHL is definitely his dream and he’ll work hard to reach it. He hopes that a team will like him enough to pick him in the first round but he is conscious that he has no control on that. Real intriguing potential and he shouldn’t be rushed in any case. We can expect at least another season in the DEL and WJC performance. For the time being, Peterka is a step ahead in the maturity of his game compared to Reichel. Though, I see a much higher potential in Reichel. I feel Reichel has good chances to end up as a first line forward and have prolific seasons. So as for his ranking, I’d say Reichel is around the top-15. Some still think he belongs to the end of the first, early second round but I really esteem his skillset and what he brings during the game. He is still a kind of risky pick since he has a long way until he becomes NHL ready. It will all come down to how he’ll develop because I think he has a hell of a ceiling.

Reichel’s highlights: https://youtu.be/JzqS6fFtz-M 

 

John-Jason Peterka – EHC München: LW / 5’11 / 192lbs (January 14th 2002)

The third player of that German trio is the energetic John-Jason Peterka. After tearing up Czech leagues with the Austrian Red Bull Hockey Akademie, Peterka decided to come back into his native land and play in Munich. Declining Barrie Colts offer and joining an European professional league, yet not as strong as the KHL and SHL, now seems to have been a wise choice. It didn’t take much time for Peterka to prove he has his place in the DEL with three goals in his first three games. Though, he still has difficulty to earn around 15 minutes a game compared to Stützle and Reichel. So far, he holds a 10 points production, which is kind of disappointing next to his two other friends. His poor productivity reflects a weakness in his offensive vision but, he is still highly talented and capable of a lot on the ice.

Starting again with skating, Peterka is fast, quick and strong. Acceleration is just top-notch. First steps are powerful and the toes dig hard in the ice. His explosiveness is crazy good. It looks like he makes a real sprint to get his speed. Peterka is very athletic and it is well shown in his legs power and balance. Stride pushes are strong and generate great speed. Peterka bends low, leans far forward and just skates like there is no tomorrow. Despite his power, his agility is pretty ordinary. Edges, tight turns and footwork need some work if he wants to become a more complete skater. As for now, he’s amazing in escaping his own zone and take some speed in the neutral zone but, he has it harder with lateral movements. Peterka really impresses when he skates forward since he is fast and energetic though, my view differs when he plays in restrain areas.

Peterka is undoubtedly more of a goal scorer than a passer. He possesses a heavy wrist shot that has no difficulty to be thrown at full speed. Accuracy is often neglected compared to the power which leads to a lot of wide shots and undemanding saves for the goaltender. 52 shots on goal and he capitalized 6 times in his 33 games. There is no doubt he can score, he already proved his worth in the juniors (even scored Michigan goals out there) and at the international stage. Obviously, time on ice and his given role don’t help him to put up points but as for now, he just seems to shoot to get the puck to the net. A little weird since he has all the tools to success. Hard shot, great release and he has the flair to get those garbage goals. He has that scoring touch and I have no concerns in his sniping abilities. The confidence is not yet at 100% with the puck and I guess it’s the reason of his struggles. Same with his passing. Peterka is still a decent passer and has good decision making but nowadays, his plays don’t create a lot of scoring chance in the offensive zone. Way too much cut passes and puck stealing. Though, he reacts quickly and attacks the net well. There are just no big playmaking upsides with him. To add up, he’s excellent on breakouts and in the neutral zone. Keeps it simple, skates with it and avoid unnecessary and risky passes. He also owns nice hands. Quick stickhandling and good to shift opponents at full speed.

Compared to Stützle and Reichel, you easily notice that the offensive minds of these two are clearly a step above Peterka. You’ll never see Peterka play with the same creativeness, smartness and audaciousness with the puck as the Mannheim and Berlin players. Instead, the Munich rookie plays with energy, pace and dedication. Always at high-tempo, he forechecks hard, competes hard and skates endlessly. Peterka is strong and actually looks like a man on the ice. His strength makes him very effective in board battles, puck protection and hitting. Peterka plays a responsible and mature game. The DEL time is doing a great job to round his game. He is pretty engaged in the defense from now on. Often the first guy to retreat, he gives no time and space to the puck carrier and knows where to positionate himself in his own end. His head is constantly moving left to right, especially when he must keep an eye on his defenseman. He never gets hypnotized by the puck and he is always aware of who he has to cover. Peterka still has the skills to produce but, he also plays really well in a power forward and two-way role. Clearly the most versatile forward and defensively apt of the trio. I like his offensive upsides but you shouldn’t rely on him to be your top scorer. His playmaking is alright and his scoring instinct needs refinement if he is to become a real sniper. However, he is the type of guy who is key in your lineup and his style fits perfectly the playoffs. His hardworking and straight line speed are the striking attributes that helped him to get ranked 8th among European skaters by NHL Central Scouting. As for where I would place him, I’d say around the top-20. Absolutely low risk guy that will energize the team and give you a legit second line production. The lowest ceiling among the three but, he has a pretty good floor. Wherever he will land, Peterka will perpetually compete and give his heart every night.

Peterka’s highlights: https://youtu.be/hsIGqzcajXg 

 

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