2020-21 Team: Adler Mannheim (DEL)
Date of Birth: August 7, 2002
Place of Birth: Augsberg, Germany
Ht: 5-foot-8 Wt: 170 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2021 second-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 39th (amongst EU skaters)
- Matthew Zator (THW): 99th
- Andrew Forbes (THW): 118th
A common sentiment among hockey fans is that you can’t trust a player’s World Junior performance. For every Carey Price, there’s a Justin Pogge; for every Nico Hischier, there’s a Cody Hodgson; for every Jordan Eberle, there’s a Marty Murray. But there’s no questioning that it gives scouts and NHL teams key insights into how a prospect fares against his own age group. And in a year where there were precious few opportunities to evaluate top draft-eligible prospects, the 2021 World Junior Tournament will carry much more weight than in years previous.
Related: 2021 NHL Draft Guide
That’s great news for German Florian Elias, who arguably had one of the best tournaments of any player outside the top-three finishers. In just five games, he scored four goals and nine points and finished sixth in tournament scoring and fifth in points-per-game despite playing fewer games than all but two of the rest of the top 24 scorers. Better yet, he had at least a point in each of his five games and three of his five assists were primary helpers. In fact, his passing was some of the best of any player in the competition; he started the tournament with a 69% accuracy, but that improved to 93% in his final game, averaging a 79% pass completion.
The performance put him on the map for North American fans, but it’s hardly a surprise for Germans. At the 2020 U18 World Championship, he led Germany with three goals and 10 points in seven games. In the same season, he was second in scoring with 59 points on Jungadler Mannheim in Germany’s U20 circuit but led the league with 26 goals. He played on the U18 team in 2019, as well, helping them to a gold medal in Division 1, promoting them to the top group for the first time since 2015, and helped Mannheim capture their second straight league title while scoring 33 points in 27 games.
Despite getting passed over in the draft last year, he’s continued to play at the highest level, graduating to the DEL this season and playing 34 games in Germany’s top league, scoring three goals and eight points and earning himself Rookie of the Year honors. While that may not look that impressive, compare it to J.J. Peterka’s rookie season, in which he scored 11 points in 42 games, which was one of the highest totals from a U20 player in league history. Also, the last two players to win Rookie of the Year were Tim Stützle and Moritz Seider.
With those sorts of stats, it may be mystifying to some to learn that this is Elias’ second go-around at the NHL draft. He was one of the youngest players available last year and was still playing in Germany’s U20 league, a weaker league in terms of competition. But scouts were likely most concerned over his size. At 5-foot-8 and 170-pounds, he’s one of the smallest prospects available. Paired with the fact he plays center, an extremely physically taxing position, teams were skeptical on how his game would transition to the NHL.
There are other concerns, too – while he is competent on defense, he could add more defensive awareness, and although his wrist shot is above average, his slapshot is not. Some also have concerns that his World Junior success may have simply benefited from having very strong linemates in Peterka and Stützle. But, like his fellow countrymen, Elias is very competitive, working hard to make up for the size difference on the ice by using speed and stickhandling to draw in opposing players and beat them with crafty moves. There is a rare level of maturity and poise in his game that is so hard to find; many of the skills he’s lacking can be trained, but you can’t train natural talent, and Elias has that in droves.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Florian Elias – NHL Draft Projection
Many NHL teams are going to look at Elias’ size and take a pass on him. That’s just the reality of the NHL today, despite the success of all the small players in the league. After watching his dominant performance at the World Juniors, one scout commented, “I don’t think we’ll give him an opportunity but…I could see someone giving him a chance.” When that chance comes, though, it is incredibly difficult to predict. He’s not highly ranked, with only a few scouts placing him within the top-100, meaning he’s most likely a late-round selection. But after the first round, especially this year, everyone is fair game, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone call his name in round three.
“Elias is a highly intelligent player. His natural ability to process the game and anticipate needs makes him impactful in all three zones. Offensively, Elias is a hound. He circles around the offensive zone, using his strong edges and low center of gravity to dart in and out of holes. He is relentless on the puck and eager to make hits and create turnovers. He sees the ice exceptionally well and displays creativity. His timing is an asset. Elias reads build-up and gets himself into high danger areas, where he is often ready to pounce on loose pucks and bury goals.” Jeff Rea, Dobber Prospects
“[M]uch like Peterka, (Elias) is a hound on the ice and possesses great skating ability. He is shifty and does a nice job creating opportunities for both him and his linemates. Teams may be forced to double-check their game notes and take a flyer on him in the future.” Dave Hall, Dobber Prospects
“For a small prospect, Elias does engage quite a bit physically and if you’re not paying attention, he’ll sneak up on you and take the puck down to the other end of the ice. Turnovers are a concern of his and his high-end offensive output is likely limited, but Elias is a good low-risk pick to consider later in the draft.” Steven Ellis, The Hockey News
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Defensive awareness
- Explosiveness in skating
It will take time for Elias to develop into an NHL-calibre player. Still, with his skill set, he has the potential to be a second-line scorer and able to be deployed on special teams, either at his natural position of center or moved to the wing, like Stützle has been this season. But he could just as easily become a fourth-line energy line center like Nathan Gerbe or Rocco Grimaldi, showing flashes of skill but never enough to move up the lineup. He’ll be a bigger risk on draft day in that there’s no telling if he’ll ever even make the NHL, but in a weaker draft class, the teams who take the big risks often come out on top.
Risk – 3/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 6/10, Defence – 5/10
Elias has suited up for Germany several times, including the 2021 U20 World Juniors and the 2019 U18 World Championship, and has twice taken home a title while playing in Germany’s U20 league. He also was named the DEL Rookie of the Year in 2021.