Expectations are high for German-born prospects heading into the 2020 NHL draft. According to TSN analyst Bob McKenzie’s latest rankings, as many as three could hear their names called in the first round. Here are the profiles of those players, all of which played in the German men’s league last season.
For the second straight season, a player from Adler Mannheim in the German DEL will come off the board early. Last season the Detroit Red Wings selected Moritz Seider with the sixth overall selection. The assumption is that this year Tim Stutzle will be chosen even sooner. Most rankings have him rated in the top three. Stutzle plays with extreme confidence, which borders on cockiness. That swagger has made him one of my favourite prospects to watch this past season.
The 6’0″ 187 lb. forward is extremely strong on his skates, with tremendous speed and agility. Along with his ability to protect the puck, those skills make him extremely dangerous in one-on-one confrontations. They also allow him the necessary space and time to utilize his exceptional vision and playmaking ability, resulting in 27 assists in 41 games.
Stutzle possesses a hard and accurate wrist shot. In addition to these high-end attributes, Stutzle is a hard worker and wins most of his board battles. Perhaps, my favourite aspect of his game is how he commands the puck, and his teammates seem to look to him in key situations, despite his young age.
The Los Angeles Kings have the second pick at the 2020 NHL draft, and there is a strong possibility that Stutzle may end up as their selection.
The 2020 World Junior Championships were a coming-out party for John-Jason Peterka. The 5’11” 192 lb. winger recorded four goals in seven games at that event, significantly improving his draft ranking. Peterka first caught my attention in the 2018-2019 season while playing for RB Hockey Akademie in the Czech U-19 league. His 45 goals and 94 points in just 48 games were tops in the league. Peterka managed seven goals this past season with EHC Munchen in a limited role.
Like Stutzle, Peterka is strong on his skates with exceptional top-end speed.
However, he lacks the same agility as Stutzle and relies strictly on quickness to beat defenders to the outside. He is similar in the manner that he likes to drive the play and carry the puck through the neutral zone. Peterka has a well-rounded game with a significant offensive upside. He, too, is a hard worker but struggles with consistency.
Peterka is a likely candidate for selection in the latter part of the opening round at the 2020 NHL draft.
The third member of the German trio is Lukas Reichel. That name should have a familiar ring to most hockey fans as his father, Martin Reichel and uncle Robert Reichel were both drafted by National Hockey League teams. Robert played 830 NHL games, mostly with the Calgary Flames, while Martin was selected by the Edmonton Oilers, but chose to remain in Europe. Lukas was born in Germany, where his father was playing at the time.
Of the three 2020 NHL draft-eligible prospects, Reichel produced the most goals this past season with 12. Despite that success, he likely has the longest path to the NHL given his slight build (6’0″ – 172 lbs.). His performance at the 2020 WJC was also commendable, registering five points in seven games.
Reichel has an extremely high hockey IQ, which he demonstrates by finding open ice in the offensive zone. He is exceptionally opportunistic around the net and has tremendous hand-eye coordination, which allows him to deflect shots from the point. Reichel can make quick decisions with the puck to find open teammates. His offensive upside makes him an intriguing prospect.
However, he will need to improve his game without the puck and gain the strength to succeed at the next level. Perhaps he could learn those characteristics from his linemate, former NHL player Maxim Lapierre.
Each of these prospects provides a unique skill set that should translate to relatively successful NHL careers while providing fans with a great deal of excitement.
Rick Warman is a Vancouver Canucks and prospects contributor for Overtime Heroics. Follow him @statman1956 on Twitter
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