Ducks 2020 Draft Spotlight: Tim Stutzle is a First Round Wildcard

A general view of the draft table for the Anaheim Ducks (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
A general view of the draft table for the Anaheim Ducks (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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AUGSBURG, GERMANY – JANUARY 15: the blackboard during the DEL match between Augsburg Panther and Adler Mannheim at the Curt Frenzel Stadion on January 15, 2017, in Augsburg, Germany. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
AUGSBURG, GERMANY – JANUARY 15: the blackboard during the DEL match between Augsburg Panther and Adler Mannheim at the Curt Frenzel Stadion on January 15, 2017, in Augsburg, Germany. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images) /

What the Scouts Say About Tim Stutzle

Being a top prospect, there has been a lot of virtual ink being spit about Stutzle, most of it, of course, being quite good.

To start the ball rolling (or puck sliding) Dobber Prospects has a simple piece about him:

"“An average-sized offensive forward with excellent speed and quickness. A great playmaker who also knows how to finish his chances. A natural center but has been frequently used at wing. High offensive upside but doesn’t provide much help in peripheral stats.”"

To me, this sums the player up fairly succinctly. He is about average size for the NHL and I don’t think that anyone could argue with the playmaker monicker given he’s put up more assists than goals in every tier and season of his hockey career bar his under-16’s season in 2015-2016. The final sentence of that little blurb, however, may push Bob Murray away from him, given his love for “two-way” players who can contribute in all facets of the game equally.

However, further reading from Jokke Nevalainen may somewhat alleviate much of the concern there, if indeed there are any concerns to be had:

"“Stützle is an excellent skater who combines high-end speed with incredible quickness. He also has quick hands which make him dangerous in one-on-one situations. He makes sharp and accurate passes, and although known as a pass-first player, he also owns a dangerous wrist shot. On top of all that, Stützle is a very quick thinker which allows him to process plays at top speed and even when he is pressured. Stützle is known as an offensive forward but he has shown significant improvement in his play without the puck and isn’t a defensive liability. He is hungry for loose pucks and has shown great effort in puck-battles when he’s trying to steal the puck. Stützle has a pretty good understanding of his defensive responsibilities and he doesn’t cheat from those. “"

The top portion of the comment alludes to the offensive acumen of the player, and like most draft-eligible prospects, the write up is glowing. However, the final portion is perhaps more interesting for Anaheim Ducks fans to latch onto. All too often we saw the incoming prospects this season shy away from puck battles or outright lose the ones they went into.

It also wasn’t unusual to see some of the more highly touted prospects (cough Terry cough) outright cheat or give up entirely on defensive plays. While Stutzle is a different tier of prospect to Troy Terry, and even Sam Steel, it would be a comforting feeling to acquire an offensive-minded prospect who goes bull at the gate to regain lost pucks. Particularly in light of current head coach Dallas Eakins‘ strategy of letting the other team have the puck and score at will.

Another point that Ducks fans may be intrigued to see in action is Stutzles’ speed. Typically a slower skating team over the past decade, primarily due to the team’s best players (Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry) being on the slower side, the new NHL is primarily based on speed and skill over size. Scott Wheeler had the following to say about Stutzle in his mid-season rankings.

"“The fastest skater in the draft, Stützle is the kind of attacking forward who takes space and quickly makes it disappear. Defenders either have to build in a larger gap before he gets going, or they have to try to push up on him … and they’re probably going to get burned either way. He shuffles and crosses over up the ice, weaving through the neutral zone to put defenders on their heels and create exits and entries with ease. And though I sometimes worry that he’s too rush-reliant and that he’s not as dangerous within the offensive zone as some of his peers… Stützle is a superb passer and handler who knifes through lanes and finish around the net… His ability to carve through the neutral zone and make defenders turn is super impressive, and then he’s got filthy middle-of-the-ice playmaking once he gets there.”"

The article may also highlight a cause for a changing of the guard in Anaheim should Stutzle be drafted. For many years, the Ducks’ best offense came on the back of a somewhat unique behind-the-net cycle game that the Getzlaf-Perry duo patented. This was primarily driven by dump and chase style of hockey that was in a large part orchestrated by Randy Carlyle while he was in charge of the Ducks bench. This style heavily influenced current coach Eakins philosophy, as the Ducks, last season dumped the puck in more than they had any year previously, and interestingly enough more on the power play than they did at even strength.

Drafting Stutzle who currently appears to be stronger on the rush than cycling in the offensive zone, and who is not strong on the forecheck, would suggest an alteration of playstyle going into the future. Though the recent trade of Ondrej Kase, who played a similar style may also suggest Stutzle isn’t exactly what the Ducks are looking for in their players.

Like many draft-eligible players, Stutzle has also had his coaches and teammates come out to bat for him. These may, in fact, be a stronger indication of the player than any commentary about his play could possibly be.  An article in Sportnet presented some quotes from head coach Tobias Abstreiter regarding the hype surrounding the player and how he’s managed to stay grounded through it all:

"“It’s unbelievable the way he’s dealing with that. He’s a very good character guy. He knows what’s important. It doesn’t affect him. At this age, it’s very impressive.”"

It seems as though Stutzle is considered to be a well-spoken young man who doesn’t appear to talk himself up, instead, allowing his play on the ice to tell the story. This is a league, and at tournaments where his opponents are often older and more experienced than he is. An analysis by NHL central scouting has the following to say.

"“He’s also a little bit cocky on the ice, but in a positive way.”"

This further cements Stutzle as a guy who lets his actions speak louder than his words. A premise which is backed up by his teammate and international captain Moritz Seider (drafted by Detroit #6 in 2019):

"“He’s a humble kid. He’s performing every single night. He has to learn a couple things, but he will adjust quick and has a bright future.”"

All in all, a Stutzle appears to be a hard-working player, who remains grounded despite the hype. He may not entirely be the cup of tea for American fans who like glitz and glamour and talking a big game, but for fans who appreciate quiet excellence and who understand the phrase “walk softly but carry a big stick,” Stutzle looks like a player they appreciate for a decade to come.

While not necessarily a comment, this play-by-play piece by Tony Ferrari is too good not to include in any draft piece about Stutzle. A break down of notable plays during a game and how Stutzle acts as a facilitator offensively, as well as highlighting some strong defensive play and transition work. Further commentary, regarding Stutzle and his play, from draft pundits, can be found here.