Germany has not been in the top division since 2015’s tourney played in Toronto and Montreal, Canada. Having earned a return by going undefeated throughout 2019’s Division I-A U20 championship – held on home ice in Füssen, no less – the Germans will look to stay just where they’re at when all is said and done in Ostrava and Třinec.
Their top-end talent is skillful enough to get the job done, but Germany lacks depth beyond a pair of heralded NHL draft selections and a highly ranked prospect. They are placed in a very tough spot as well. The Germans find themselves nestled within the Group B powerhouses of USA, Canada, Russia and the hosting Czech Republic.
Germany’s head coach Tobias Abstreiter will need to work some magic, which may require going with a muck-and-grind approach. Abstreiter is a former player of two previous World Juniors (1988 and 1989), took part in numerous IIHF World Championships and even the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games. He has plenty of experience in going up against the “big boys” as a player. As a seasoned coach in his homeland, Abstreiter already has familiarity with the majority of his players already.
No matter how they end up finishing, Germany will be a enjoyable team to watch. They will rely heavily on their main trio of young stars (whom we will discuss shortly), so it will be an opportune time for NHL fans to get acquainted with the German portion of hockey’s future.
THW breaks down how Germany’s roster ought to take shape when the 2020 World Juniors get underway.
This will be Hendrik Hane’s third and final U20 tournament. The spry netminder has played for Germany’s U20 team since 2018 and was simply brilliant in net during last year’s gold medal win Füssen. Hane played in all five games for his country, and in the process garnered the top goals against average (0.98), top save percentage (.949) and the Best Goaltender honors. About the only thing going against him really is his size – Hane is all of 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds. The crease will be primarily his in the Czech Republic, but do not expect Hane to see all of the action this time around.
At 6-foot-1 and over 170 pounds, Tobias Ancicka is one of the larger of the four likeliest German goalies but is also the youngest. Not turning 19 until the end of February, Ancicka has played in net for the U18 squad the past two years. He saw about half of the action both in 2018 and 2019, and subsequently helped backstop Germany to a silver and gold respectively. This current 2019-20 season Ancicka has played for Lukko’s U20 team in Finland, putting up a 2.35 GAA and .918 SV% in 17 games.
Philipp Maurer is a very lanky netminder at 6-foot and all of 155 pounds. He has a late birthday, and just turned 19 years old on Dec. 2, making this potentially his only shot at an IIHF U20 tournament. Maurer has played the majority of his time in the Deutsche Nachwuchsliga (DNL) – the elite junior league in Germany – with occasional appearances in the country’s third tier level of hockey, the Oberliga. If the Germans decide to go with three goalies – and Maurer is one of them – he will function primarily as an insurance policy.
A fourth and final option for the German net is Florian Mnich. We envision him being Hane’s backup, but he’s good enough to handle the duties for a game or two. Talk about cutting it close, Mnich will turn 20 years old just nine days after the 2020 World Juniors have concluded. He was a member of the team in Füssen, but saw no action while Hane stole the show. Mnich is the most sizable of the potential goalies at 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds. Currently playing for the Hannover Scorpions in his homeland, Mnich has North American Hockey League (NAHL) experience with the Corpus Christi IceRays in 2018-19.
The big name along Germany’s blue line is of course Moritz Seider. Selected sixth overall this past summer by the Detroit Red Wings, the sizable defender captained his team to gold in Füssen. In addition to garnering a German advancement into the top division, Seider was named the tournament’s Best Defender while also having the most points among all D (1-6-7). There is seemingly no weakness to the 6-foot-4, 207-pound blueliner’s game. Seider is undoubtedly Germany’s most vital player. We also think that Abstreiter will name this elite rearguard as his team captain.
Though much smaller in stature than Seider, expect Simon Gnyp to be a guarantee for making the final cut among Germany’s defense corps. At 5-foot-10 and shy of 180 pounds, he is diminutive for a defender but a spirited puck mover. Gnyp held Germany’s captaincy for their U18 squad that won gold in Grenoble, France at the 2019 Division I-A tournament. He tied for the team lead in assists with seven in just five games.
Maximilian Glötzl has been called “the biggest German D talent not named Seider“. Though he is just 17 years old, Glötzl possesses a man’s body at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds. Like Gnyp, he was part of the German team in Grenoble. Glötzl recorded his team’s game-winning goal over the Norwegians on Apr. 15, 2019 en route to the gold medal. Pairing him with Seider seems a logical move on paper, and would help stymie opposing shooters.
Other potential defenders for Germany include Niklas Heinzinger, Tobias Möller, Alexander Dersch, Daniel Wirt, Philipp Mass, and Eric Mik.
Tim Stützle is being heralded as hockey’s next Leon Draisaitl and he comes with the necessary credentials. Stützle helped the Germans take gold in Grenoble where they would go undefeated in five games. Stützle went 2-7-9 for scoring, and received Best Forward honors. Just 17 years of age, most experts have him slated to go within the top-10 picks of the 2020 NHL Draft. Stützle is 5-18-23 in 25 games for Adler Mannheim this current 2019-20 Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL) season.
Winger Dominik Bokk is the other big-time player up front for the Germans. A 2018 opening-round selection by the St. Louis Blues, he is currently under contract with the Carolina Hurricanes after coming over in a trade. At 19 years of age, Bokk is playing in his third and final U20 tournament for Germany. He served as an alternate captain at last year’s Division I-A competition in Füssen. There Bokk was part of Germany’s gold medal-winning squad, and had the most assists (7) and points (8) among all skaters. At 6-foot-2 and over 180 pounds, he possesses very quick hands and is a solid passer. Along with Seider and Stützle, Bokk’s is one of Germany’s “Big Three”.
We also really like forward John-Jason Peterka. Similar to Stützle, the 17-year-old Peterka will be selected at some point in the 2020 NHL Draft. Early reports are speculating that he could end up being a top-20 pick. With the U18 gold medal-winning team in Grenoble, Peterka went 2-6-8 in scoring through the five games. A modest 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, we like his passing ability but Peterka can also put pucks home too. Playing for the Red Bull Hockey Academy’s U19 team, he scored 45 goals in 48 games in 2018-19.
Other forwards who could make the final roster include Lukas Reichel, Tim Fleischer, Justin Schütz, Dennis Lobach, Luis Schinko, Louis Brune, Nino Kinder, Yannik Valenti, Taro Jentzsch, Filip Varejcka, Valentino Klos, and Jan Nijenhuis.
The Bottom Line
Germany’s weakness is going to be their goaltending. Even when compared to their counterpart Team Kazakshtan – who is also expected to finish at the bottom of the tournament standings – we would give the goaltending edge to the Kazakhs.
Having said that, it is clear that Germany has much more talent among their forward and defense ranks than what the Kazakhs do. Seider, Stützle, and Bokk are clear-cut talents. That trio alone is conceivably better than any other group of the three best from Kazakhstan, Slovakia, and even Switzerland.
The question then becomes: “Are Seider, Stützle, and Bokk enough?”.
In the grand scheme of things, the answer is “No, certainly not.” But, if ancillary players like Peterka, Gnyp, Lukas Reichel, and Tim Fleischer can step up their games, then the Germans could take a couple of wins during the tourney. The trouble is that while Kazakhstan has a possible easier row to hoe in their Group A, the Germans have no such luck in that regard.
In all likelihood, Germany will see itself having to fight out of relegation in the final days of the 2020 World Juniors. The good news is that if and when that happens, we foresee them staving off relegation and returning for 2021. Look for the Germans to ultimately finish ninth and retain their top division status.
Here is THW’s prediction as to who makes the final 23-man roster for Germany:
Goaltenders: Hendrik Hane, Tobias Ancicka, Florian Mnich.
Defense: Moritz Seider, Maximilian Glötzl, Simon Gnyp, Niklas Heinzinger, Alexander Dersch, Daniel Wirt, Philipp Mass.
Forwards: Dominik Bokk, Lukas Reichel, Tim Fleischer, John-Jason Peterka, Tim Stützle, Justin Schütz, Dennis Lobach, Luis Schinko, Louis Brune, Nino Kinder, Yannik Valenti, Taro Jentzsch, Filip Varejcka.
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General Manager of the Buffalo Beauts (NWHL). Hockey history writer “The Hockey Writers”. Credentialed media for the NHL Combine and 2018 IIHF World Junior Championships in Buffalo, NY, USA. Born and raised in Buffalo, NY. Lifelong hockey fan for over 40 years. Proponent of the women’s game.