Prospects News & Rumors: Kurashev, Stützle & CHL Import Draft

This is a very exciting time if you are a fan of National Hockey League prospects. A handful of youngsters could be preparing to get their first taste of Stanley Cup playoff action in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, general managers and scouting staffs across the NHL and the North American junior ranks are getting their draft boards ready.

Kurashev Skating with the Big Club

The Chicago Blackhawks, like many teams around the NHL, are slowly getting players back on the ice. One of their top prospects, Philipp Kurashev, joined a few of his teammates for a workout earlier this week.

The Blackhawks are set to take on the Edmonton Oilers whenever the Qualifying Round of the Stanley Cup playoffs begin. With the rosters reportedly going to be expanded to 28 players for the playoffs, Kurashev could be one of the youngsters that get called up to spend the summer with the big club.

Kurashev, drafted by the Blackhawks in the fourth round (120th overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, is coming off his first professional season in North America. He scored seven goals and 19 points in 36 American Hockey League (AHL) games with the Rockford IceHogs. While his numbers don’t leap off the page, he impressed head coach Derek King with his play all season long.

“Too bad he got hurt or I think you would have seen him called up, maybe, or higher up in our points,” King said of Kurashev in a conference call last month. “I believe he is going to be an NHL hockey player. Whether it is a year or two down the road, that’s going to be up to him. I really liked the way he performed.”

Philipp Kurashev Rockford Icehogs
The Blackhawks have high hopes for Kurashev. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

At the very least, spending the next few weeks working out with the NHL club and learning from veterans like Duncan Keith and Jonathan Toews should go a long way in his development.

Prospect of the Day: Tim Stützle

Yesterday, we profiled Alexis Lafrenière, who is expected to be the top pick in this year’s NHL Entry Draft. Today, will we look at Stützle, who is ranked as the top European skater by NHL Central Scouting heading into the draft.

When you think of the top European skater, you’d likely think he is from a traditional powerhouse like Finland, Russia or Sweden. Stützle hails from Germany and looks to be following his fellow countrymen Leon Draisitl and Moritz Seider as early first-round draft picks.

Related – 2020 NHL Draft Guide

He played for Alder Mannheim of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL), Germany’s top professional league, during the 2019-20 season. He scored seven goals and 34 points in 41 games as an 18-year-old playing against seasoned veterans. Those numbers may not seem huge, but you have to remember that it is very hard for youngsters to get a lot of ice time in the European professional leagues. He finished the season with an average of 0.83 points per game, which was the highest-ever for a player his age in DEL history.

Tim Stützle Adler Mannheim
Stützle could be the highest-drafted German-born player in NHL history. (Photo Credit: Simon Hastegård/Bildbyrån).

Stützle brings a complete package of skills with him to the rink. He is a very good skater with arguably the best hands in the entire draft. He sees the ice very well and that allows him to excel at setting up his teammates with his elite-level passing ability.  He is one of the most well-rounded prospects of the entire 2020 draft class and is viewed by many to be as close to “sure thing” as there can be.

Our own Josh Bell feels he will be one of the top picks of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.

“The top of this draft is stacked, but Stützle is near the top of that pile. At this point, the German sensation should be at the very least a top-four pick, likely coming in somewhere behind Alexis Lafrenière. For what it’s worth, Leon Draisitl was taken third overall in 2014. Stützle is going to come in around that range, potentially becoming the new highest-drafted German ever.”

He has the skill set and the potential to be a top-line center for years to come at the NHL level. He could make his league debut as early as the 2020-21 season, whenever it might begin. He is that good.

CHL Import Draft All Set

While much of the hockey world is getting ready for Friday night’s first phase of the NHL Draft Lottery, general managers across the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) are getting set for their upcoming Import Draft. On Wednesday, the CHL announced the details for their annual draft of players who do not have residency in either Canada or the United States, which will take place on Tuesday, June 30.

The online draft will consist of two rounds with each team in the three CHL leagues selecting a pair of players. The order was determined by the regular-season standings with the teams with the lowest point totals going first. The North Bay Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) has the first selection. The Acadie-Banthurst Titan of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) own the second pick with the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) Swift Current Broncos choosing third.

Per CHL rules, each team is allowed to dress and play up to two players who are taken in the Import Draft. Marco Rossi, a native of Austria, was taken 18th overall in the 2018 Import Draft by the Ottawa 67’s.

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This past season, his second in the OHL, Rossi scored 39 goals and led all CHL players with 120 points in 56 games. He is currently rated fifth among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting and is expected to be a top 10 draft pick in the upcoming Entry Draft.