Stützle shuns pressure, embraces draft chase
Tim Stützle isn’t thinking about it.
Everything from this point forward, after all, is out of his control.
But Stützle, the top-ranked European skater for the 2020 NHL Draft, is still well aware that he has the opportunity to eclipse Leon Draisaitl to become the highest-drafted German-born player.
“I can’t say much about it,” Stützle told FC Hockey. “It’d be great to get drafted higher. I wouldn’t say no if I get drafted in the same spot as him.
“It would be a big honor for me. It doesn’t really mean a lot. It’s the first step in the right direction but you need to stay at that level like Leon did. He’s the top scorer in the NHL. He’s a great hockey player. He’s great for German hockey.”
Draisailt was selected with the No. 3 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
Stützle, six years later, is No. 3 in Future Considerations’ Spring ranking for the 2020 draft.
Needless to say, there’s a chance.
The pressure, though, of being a highly-regarded prospect has always come internally.
It’s not from playing in front of scouts and National Hockey League general managers.
Not in chasing Draisaitl. Not in being the top-ranked European. Not in representing Germany.
It’s from the Adler Mannheim forward himself.
“I think my goal was to get drafted as high as possible at the beginning of the season and that’s the pressure I put on myself,” said Stützle, who outlines his skating, playmaking abilities and hockey IQ as his greatest strengths. “Germany isn’t a hockey country like Canada or the USA, but we’ve got some great young players.
“Anybody can end up as a high draft pick from here.
“There wasn’t much pressure from the outside, from the media and everything with so many people talking about me. I put my own pressure on myself. I want to play my best every game. The pressure was there, but I like to play under pressure a little bit too.”
He found success in that pressure.
Stützle, who turned 18 in January, had 34 points (seven goals, 27 assists) in 41 games in Deutsche Eishockey Liga — Germany’s top circuit.
“It was a great season,” said the 6-foot-1, 185-pound forward, who also netted five assists in five games for Germany at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship this winter.
“I had unbelievable players. We had a great line. I also had great coaches, fitness coaches. They helped me a lot. Everyone wanted to make me better every day. It was great for me. I liked staying there and working hard. This season we ended up second place. I think we had a great chance at the title again because we had a great team and great people.
“Everybody was good with each other. It was great.”
That help led to some impressive strides.
“I gained about five kilos during the season,” Stützle said. “I think that was the thing I improved the most. I think I got better in every situation too, with playmaking and all that stuff. It was playing against men, I think, that was the best thing for me to get better and train every day against men. It was very important, learning to battle against men.
“You learn a lot. That was great.”
He had plenty of help on the ice and in the weight room.
Stützle, it turns out, had some help away from the rink, too.
Moritz Seider, his friend and teammate at the World Juniors, was drafted sixth overall in 2019 by the Detroit Red Wings after a highly-successful season with Mannheim.
An asset for Stützle, no doubt.
“He’s a good friend of mine,” Stützle said of Seider, who spent the 2019-20 season with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League. “I talked to Mo a lot.
“He said it’s just a great experience and just let everything come to you. It’s a lot of fun, he said. He had so many great experiences. He said to just let it come to me.”
So far, so good.
“At the beginning of the season I wasn’t ranked as high as I am now,” Stützle said. “My goal was to get as high as I am now, but we’d talk a lot about how he was doing, how his family was doing and all that stuff…not everything about hockey. Just one thing is to let everything come to you and it’s going to be great.
“It’s the only thing he said to me about the draft.”
The approach, seemingly, has been a successful one.
Now, Stützle can only wait to determine if his draft is the most successful from a German-born player to date.