LW, Adler Mannheim (DEL)
5’11″/165 lbs., 17.67 years
Fast processing skills allow him to make plays at a faster rate than defenders can handle:
- Tim Stutzle knows where his teammates are going to be well before they are there, or perhaps even before they know where they’re going – he reads the probable developments of any given play and makes a decision as to how things will wind up in a way that puts him a step ahead.
- His ability to open up both passing and shooting lanes derives from putting on the moves and making plays with definitive results in mind. It’s more than just his physical toolkit (although we’ll get to that later), because Stutzle knows how to deploy his skills at a rapid rate, much faster than anyone else on the ice can anticipate.
- In both wide-out and tight-space scenarios, Stutzle is effective in his fluid decisiveness, in that each choice he makes leads to another more profitable play, quickly building to high-quality scoring chances for himself and his teammates.
Slick skating ability puts him in a position to succeed no matter the situation:
- Stutzle is not a straight-line player – he loops around the ice in a manner that’s not necessarily shifty, just incredibly hard to keep up with, due to his edge-work and particularly smooth stride.
- Lateral movements are especially effective; he often moves in one direction while positioning his body in a different direction, both in his off-the-puck movements and when he’s handling the puck. Confounding opposing defenders, he creates rounded, circular spaces that leave ample room for him to make plays and link up with teammates; drop passes, give-and-go’s, and overlap play are a specialty of his.
- The German’s skating ability is exceptional in tight as well, and he shifts gears from open space to in-close, nearly-impenetrable areas in conjunction with his stick-handling and shot for dangerous individual scoring opportunities.
Stick-handling is tricky but not overly complex, serves as the link between his mental capacities and skating/body-positioning:
- Stutzle’s ability to retain the puck as he swims around the offensive zone gives him time to engineer scoring chances, which given his superior temporal understanding makes him especially difficult to follow. He takes his time until his defender(s) get behind by a split second and then continues to take advantage until the entire opposing team’s defensive scheme is in shambles.
- His moves are flashy but not too much – he demonstrates his quick thinking with quick moves in order to fully profit off of an opponent’s overcommitments or slight mistakes without risking a turnover.
- Thinking the way he does and moving the way he does culminates in a sharp sense of how to exploit seams, whether in discombobulating several defenders as a means to give his teammates scoring opportunities, or to make a power move to the net and utilize his quick-release shot.
Transition to the NHL might be difficult:
- Quick thinking is Stutzle’s strong suit, and although he’s one step ahead of the game (quite literally) compared to the rest of his draft class, experienced NHL defenders will likely be able to process the play just as fast, if not faster, than the young German. This would stymie his skill set in action, because even if he’s able to pull off his physicals feats he may be just a millisecond short of taking full advantage, depending on the situation.
- Along similar lines, his tangible abilities on the ice will also be less of an advantage – many young players try dipsy-doodle moves out in their first few NHL games only to find them ineffective, and his swift skating might not blind seasoned vets the way it does his German pro-league opponents.
Through the first 2 months of 2019-20, Stutzle has put up an amazing 15 points in 17 GP in the DEL. Few top prospects come out of the DEL, making it a much more difficult league to analyze statistically than the Liiga or SHL. However, the DEL compares roughly to the Allsvenskan, Liiga and VHL in terms of league quality. For recent examples, that rate would put Stutzle on a similar level as Kaapo Kakko and Elias Pettersson when it comes to draft year scoring. As more of the hockey world is taking note of Stutzle and his scoring numbers, he continues to rise on rankings. If he can sustain his current pace, we will see him force his way into the top 5. There’s no doubt he’s talented enough to do it.
Tim Stutzle is fast – fast in his head, with his hands, and on his feet. The young German possesses significant advantages over his compatriots in the DEL (and in 2018-19 the DNL U20) because of his incredibly fast processing speed. He thinks the game at both another level and at a different speed, allowing him to make sophisticated plays with ease as he opens up shooting and passing lanes before defenders know to close them, or before they even know they exist. This makes him a particularly dangerous teammate beyond just his individual scoring ability, because of the way in which he can then set up fellow attacking players sometimes before even they know what’s coming.
Coupled with his unique skating style – you’ll rarely see him moving in direct lines – and his puckhandling magic, and it’s enough to put opponents totally out of sorts when they encounter him circling the offensive zone weaving in and out. Stutzle is almost a stereotypical Euro player, in that he’s smooth and engaging in his modus operandi, not playing an especially “hard” (tell that to anyone attempting to cover him) game but instead relying on his rapidly materializing vision for developing a scoring sequence.
The only super evident knock on Tim Stutzle is that his game may not translate to the NHL all that smoothly (ironic, given his play-style). The most common difficulty, almost to the point of cliché, is that young, recently-drafted talents of his kind have a hard time adjusting to the speed of the game, with experienced NHL players already having made the course correction necessary to read things effectively. Stutzle’s fast feet will surely be able to adapt over time, and maybe his hands will too, but the cut-above mindset he brings to the ice and the resulting propensity for setting up complex scoring situations may diminish to a certain extent, at least while he adjusts.