February 20, 2020

German trio could make draft history

It’s shaping up to be a banner year for Germany at the 2020 NHL Draft.

With three premier prospects honing their trade at home in Tim Stutzle, Lukas Reichel and John-Jason Peterka, there’s no shortage of top German talent available in 2020, to the point where it could be a record-setting scene this June in Montreal.

“I have been scouting German and Swiss prospects for many years but have never seen a such strong German draft class like this year,” Future Considerations head European scout Dennis Schellenberg said. “Seeing them play for the past two or three seasons and develop into top prospects, one could have seen this will be a special German draft year. There had been classes with extraordinarily talents like as Moritz Seider and Leon Draisaitl, however, there had never been three top German prospects in the same class in the past decade.”

Only six German-born players have been selected since the Edmonton Oilers nabbed Leon Draisaitl with the No. 3 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, including first round selections Dominik Bokk (2018, St. Louis Blues) and Moritz Seider (2019, Detroit Red Wings).

In fact, no draft year has seen three Germans selected in the opening two rounds.

The highest three Germans have been drafted in the same year was in 2001, when Marcel Goc (No. 20), Christian Ehrhoff (No. 106) and Dimitri Patzold (No. 107) were selected. Rob Zepp (No. 110) and Christoph Schuberg (No. 127) were also selected that year.

The trio of Stutzle, Reichel and Peterka could set a new benchmark.

Stutzle, third in Future Considerations’ Winter ranking for the 2020 draft, in particular has the potential to match, and possibly eclipse, Draisaitl as the highest drafted German-born player in history.

“I have followed this special player for a few years already and he has never disappointed me,” Schellenberg said. “He has been a difference maker in nearly any game I have seen him play in. The type of player that decides games. He has taken on a major role in DEL powerhouse Adler Mannheim, the top German organization when it comes to player development. What I admire most in his game is his skill and speed. He’s just so exciting to watch.”

Stutzle, 18, has 29 points (seven goals, 22 assists) in 35 games with Mannheim.

“No challenge seems too big for him and shows up in every shift, often being the difference maker,” Schellenberg said. “He’s extremely creative with the puck and possessing an above-average playmaking sense. He sometimes wants to make too fancy of plays and tries to do too much, especially playing his age-tier, but that will go away with age and experience, which will make him an even more exciting player.

“Stützle won’t have to wait long until his name gets called in the first evening of the NHL Draft.”

He could have company, too. Peterka slots at No. 49, and Reichel at No. 51.

Both have a shot at being first-round candidates by the time the draft rolls around this June.

“While Reichel might be more of a gamble for any team that picks him, his reward is also bigger,” Schellenberg said. “It seems to be the more skilled player of them. Peterka, on the other hand, is projected to fit in better into the North American game. With his strength and work ethic, he would fit the role of a third line player.

“I am not sure yet, if Peterka possesses the skill upside of other players in his drafting range and here and there you’ll see limitations with his abilities when he possesses the puck.

“Reichel, therefore, possesses more puck skills but is also a bit harder to project, if he will reach that level, while Peterka is the safer bet.”

Each, with Stutzle, are among the youngest players in DEL, and Reichel in particular, is the youngest in the league.

It hasn’t slowed him.

With Berlin, the 17-year-old has 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists) in 35 games.

“Reichel has surprised many scouts this season, including me,” Schellenberg said. “He has grown into a nice role for Berlin, which I wouldn’t have believed to start the season. He continued his rise and gained more attention in a strong World Juniors, where he has been among Germany’s top players and had a significant impact on the team’s successful tournament.

“What I like about his game is his outstanding skating combined with his puck skills. His blazing speed and great mobility is something that catches eyes. He possesses smooth hands and can handle the puck really nice. Is able to go into traffic areas with the puck. I also like his decision making with the puck on his stick.”

Peterka, 18, is impressive for different reasons, and is much more than his 10 points (six goals, four assists) in 36 games for Munich.

“Peterka is a working horse, who rarely takes a shift off,” Schellenberg said. “He competes very hard in all of his shifts and can be in the face of opposing players with his tenaciousness. His strong lower body and legs are supporting him in battles for the puck. He’s extremely hard to knock off the puck due to his strong legs. This is impressive as he is not necessarily big in size. Would often come out as the winner from board battles.”

Peterka, and Stutzle and Reichel, will undoubtedly hear their names called in a few months.

Should things fall into place, the trio could be the new benchmark back home.

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