When I began this series about the many different players the Detroit Red Wings could target with the fourth-overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, there was one player I went back and forth about whether or not to include. I’m sure the Red Wings should take him, but I’m not sure he will be available once they’re on the clock.
Almost unanimously, Tim Stützle is considered a top-three talent in this year’s draft. Some have him going as high as second overall. Others have him going as low as fourth. If the latter happens, the Red Wings should consider themselves very lucky.
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Not only is Stützle dynamic forward, but he would also fit almost anywhere in the Red Wings’ forward core of the future. When you can snag a player like that, you must. But what is it about the young German that sets him apart from the majority of his peers?
Stützle is listed as both a center and a left-winger depending on where you look him up. He spent time at both positions this season in Germany’s top league. His ability to make plays for his teammates (former NHL forward Ben Smith in particular) was always on display no matter what part of the ice he was responsible for.
At 6-feet, 185 pounds, Stützle already has enough size to go toe-to-toe with some of the NHL’s best centers. Given the relative lack of size in the other candidates the Red Wings will consider, he literally stands a notch above the rest.
As he physically matures, he’ll be able to muscle his way around the ice while creating offensive opportunities for his teammates. In a lot of ways, he’s a Swiss army knife; you could see coaches using him on the power play as a distributor from the point, a shooter from above the circle, or even as a puck-hog from behind the net. He’s an offensive player who gives his coach options.
Our own Rachel Anderson broke down Stützle’s game in which she highlighted his puck-handling abilities as well as his ability to read the play.
The on-ice intelligence that Stützle displayed last season was impressive, then factor in that he did it against men, and it is more incredible. This implies that he is a lot closer to cracking the NHL than others in his 2020 draft class. Hockey IQ is something that you either have or you don’t, and he has it.
On the defensive side, he isn’t a liability, though I wouldn’t consider him a real two-way player at this point. However, the base is there for him to develop a strong defensive game. Of all the forwards available in this draft, he might have the best chance of becoming a true all-situations player.
Much like fellow German prospect, Moritz Seider, Stützle will be eligible to immediately cross the Atlantic and play in the AHL. That is likely what the Red Wings would do with him (assuming the AHL can play their season due to the ongoing pandemic.) If he adapts quickly to the North American game, and there are some injuries on the Red Wings’ roster, Stützle could make his NHL debut as soon as next season.
That being said, fans would be wise to temper their expectations should this scenario play out. It is incredibly difficult for an 18 or 19-year-old player to come into the NHL and find success. In Stützle’s case, he could bring some offensive ability to the Red Wings’ lineup, specifically to their middle-six. However, the team simply doesn’t have the kind of forward depth needed to bring out the best in Stützle at such a young age.
Best Player Available
Simply put, Stützle would be the best player available if he is still on the board at fourth overall. The Red Wings are not in a position to pass up the best player in favor of positional need – they need help at every position. Adding Stützle would provide them with talent at all forward positions.
If the Red Wings leave the draft with Stützle in hand, he and Seider could begin the next wave of great players to come from the Eastern Hemisphere.
The player the Red Wings select at fourth overall will have a great chance at becoming the team’s best player over time. If they select Stützle, that likelihood becomes even greater. It would be a mistake for the Los Angeles Kings and the Ottawa Senators to pass on him with picks two and three; it would be an even bigger mistake if the Red Wings let him slip past pick four.