Tim Stuetzle, a forward with Mannheim in Germany's top league, is No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of the top International skaters for the 2020 NHL Draft.
Central Scouting released its midterm rankings of the top North American and International skaters and goalies Monday. The 2020 Draft will be held at Bell Centre in Montreal on June 26-27.
Stuetzle, a 6-foot-1, 187-pound left wing, has 23 points (five goals, 18 assists) in 25 games with Mannheim. The 17-year-old forward also had five assists in five games for Germany at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship.
NHL Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb said Stuetzle's play at the 2019 U-20 4 Nations Tournament this past November in Piestsny, Slovakia, put him at the top of the International skater list, and his play since then cemented his spot.
[INTERACTIVE: North American skaters | North American goalies | International skaters | International goalies]
[PDFs: North American skaters | North American goalies | International skaters | International goalies]
"He's a natural skater, he has excellent speed, excellent hockey sense and excellent feeling for the game," Stubb said. "He's a really good stickhandler, has good puck control and a pretty good shot. He has really been sensational."
Swedish Hockey League forwards Lucas Raymond of Frolunda and Alexander Holtz of Djurgarden are No. 2 and No. 3, respectively.
Raymond, a 5-11, 170-pound right-shooting left wing, has five points (three goals, two assists) in 17 games for Frolunda. He also had four points (two goals, two assists) to help Sweden finish third at the World Juniors.
Holtz (5-11, 192), a right-shooting right wing, has 11 points (seven goals, four assists) in 23 games for Djurgarden. He had five points (three goals, two assists) in seven games at the WJC for Sweden, including an overtime goal against Finland on the first day of the tournament.
Stubb said the decision to rank Raymond ahead of Holtz was more difficult than the decision to put Stuetzle at No. 1.
"Raymond is, in our opinion, a more complete player than Holtz," Stubb said. "Holtz is a sniper; he has a hell of a shot. Lucas Raymond is a more useful, more solid team player. They're very close. The race between those two has been very, very even the whole season. Holtz has really an unbelievable shot. But Raymond is probably the more complete player."
[RELATED: Complete 2020 NHL Draft coverage]
Anton Lundell, a center with HIFK in Liiga, Finland's top league, is No. 4 on the list and would have been a key player for Finland at the World Juniors after helping them win the 2019 WJC but was sidelined for the tournament because of an elbow injury. He returned to the lineup Jan. 4, and has 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in 23 games in Liiga.
"Lundell is maybe the most solid two-way player from Europe in this draft," Stubb said. "He's not flashy, he's not a very fast skater, he's a good, solid skater. He has ability, good hockey sense, and he's an excellent two-way player and a very good competitor."
Yaroslav Askarov (6-3, 176) of Neva St. Petersburg in Russia's second division is the top-rated International goalie.
The 17-year-old has a 2.38 goals-against average and .922 save percentage in 16 games.
"Askarov has always been a promising prospect for many and for me since I first saw him last season," Artem Yankchenkov of NHL European Scouting said. "Quick reactions, good mental focus, good catching glove and movement in the crease area. Reads the play and communicates with his defensemen well. Good technical play, doesn't allow rebounds, good stick, quick recovery. Cool, calm and collected, and good size as well. He has always been a safe and reliable goalie, one of the top prospects for the upcoming draft for me."
Askarov started two games for Russia at the WJC but had an .877 save percentage in five games and looked unsteady at times. However, scouts believe his play was more a function of pressure from the highest level of hockey he's played, and still view him as potentially the first goalie selected in the top 10 since Carey Price was chosen by the Montreal Canadiens with the No. 5 pick in the 2005 NHL Draft.
"It's the first time, the first tournament, I've seen him like that," Stubb said. "It was the highest level of skill he's played at. The pressure on him was pretty high, he's only 17 years old and playing World Junior and playing in the big games. He was not as smooth that way but he's still a hell of a good goaltender."
Forward Alexis Lafreniere of Rimouski in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is No. 1 on Central Scouting's midterm ranking of the top North American skaters. Nicolas Daws of Guelph of the Ontario Hockey League is No. 1 among North American goalies.
Listen: New episode of NHL Draft Class