Tim Stuetzle could be the first of three Germany-born players selected in the first round of the 2020 NHL Draft, something Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl is rooting for.
Draisaitl was leading the NHL with 110 points (43 goals, 67 assists) when the season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
The Oilers forward became the highest-selected Germany-born forward when Edmonton chose him with the No. 3 pick of the 2014 NHL Draft.
Stuetzle is No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of International skaters. The 6-foot-1, 187-pound left wing had 34 points (seven goals, 27 assists) in 41 games Mannheim in Deutsche Eishockey Liga, Germany's top professional league, and was named the DEL rookie of the year.
He could be the No. 2 pick of the draft; forward Alexis Lafreniere of Rimouski in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is expected to go No. 1.
"I haven't had contact with Tim yet," Draisaitl said Monday during a video conference organized by the NHL with fellow Germany-born NHL players Tobias Rieder of the Calgary Flames, Philipp Grubauer of the Colorado Avalanche and Dominik Kahun of the Buffalo Sabres. "I think that he's surrounded by people who prepare him for that. I don't think that he needs my support. He should just enjoy it. ... We all wish him and both of the other Germans all the best of luck."
Stuetzle had said Draisaitl and Oilers teammate Connor McDavid were two of his favorite players.
"My favorite player is Connor McDavid for sure," Stuetzle said in April. "He wants to win every game too and he wants to be the difference, make a difference and it's just awesome to see how he skates and the puck skills. And for sure as a German guy I need to go with Leon too. He's doing great and a guy I look up to."
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Two forwards who could go later in the first round are John-Jason Peterka of Munchen and Lukas Reichel of Eisbaren Berlin.
Peterka (5-11, 192), No. 7 on Central Scouting's final ranking, had 11 points (seven goals, four assists) in 42 DEL games. Reichel (6-foot, 170), No. 11 on the final ranking, had 24 points (12 goals, 12 assists) in 42 DEL games.
Five players born in Germany have been selected in the first round of the NHL Draft, but never more than one in any year: Forward Marco Sturm (No. 21, San Jose Sharks, 1996), forward Marcel Goc (No. 20, Sharks, 2001), Draisaitl, forward Dominik Bokk (No. 25, St. Louis Blues, 2018) and defenseman Moritz Seider (No. 6, Detroit Red Wings, 2019).
"I've never seen [Stuetzle] playing live, but what you hear about him is incredible, what he did this season," Kahun said. "I know J-J Peterka from Munich, where I joined for summer training last year. You can see what he can do. He is a top performer that plays well. The German hockey in the NHL is improving. Especially with Leon playing how he did, that's great advertising for German ice hockey. The Germans are making an impact, no matter if it's Tobi, Philipp or me. Earlier there were not so many Germans in the NHL, so nobody talked about German ice hockey that much. But I think that we're on the right track."
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