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Germany’s Continuous Hockey Development on Full Display in NHL

Tim Stützle is one of three German born players that will be premium picks in the 2020 NHL Draft.

Leon Draisaitl and Tim Stutzle German hockey

Later this evening, there are three German born players that could be taken in the 1st round of the 2020 NHL draft. As interested observers may know by now, Tim Stützle will likely be selected as the 2nd or 3rd overall pick. Should the LA Kings take Stützle with the #2 pick he would be recognized as the highest NHL draft selection of any German-born player. Considering the young German would eclipse current Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay award winner Leon Draisaitl in that regard, it is kind of a big deal! — not only for Stützle, but for the entire country of Germany.

Related: Edmonton Oilers Leon Draisaitl’s Award-Winning 2019-20 Season

German Uprise in Talent

In an article posted on the Score, John Matisz explored the recent stream of top hockey prospects coming from Germany. Prior to the Edmonton Oilers selecting Leon Draisaitl as the 3rd overall selection in 2014, there had only been two other homegrown German players selected in the 1st round of the NHL Entry Draft. The San Jose Sharks selected Marcel Goc, 20th overall in 2001 and current LA Kings Assistant Coach, Marco Sturm was taken 21st overall in 1996.

Notably, the 2020 draft will mark the third consecutive year that a German player is taken in the first round. Last year, the Detroit Red Wings stepped up and selected Zell’s Moritz Seider with the sixth overall choice. In 2018, the St. Louis Blues made Schweinfurt’s Dominik Bokk their first-round selection at 25. 

Power Play 26

Clearly there is a pattern emerging within German hockey development and the subsequent talent that is being unleashed on the world stage. This is significant for a multitude of reasons, but mainly because Germany is typically not perceived to be a hockey country. In fact, within the German youth sport culture Marco Sturm notes “There’s soccer. Then there’s nothing. Then there’s the rest.” However, since the creation of Power Play 26, German hockey development appears to be ahead of the curve.

Power Play 26 was created as a short-to-long term plan for developmental growth within the game of hockey in Germany. The initial goal was to develop high end players so that the country could continuously compete for medals on the world stage by 2026.  

Directed by federation president Franz Reindl, Power Play 26 takes a modern approach to developing young hockey players. The program asks youth coaches to emphasize skills training, skating and stickhandling, over teaching team tactics (a massive and important shift for any hockey development model). Even though the project reaped immediate benefits (German Olympic Silver Medal in 2018), Power Play 26 was created as a gradual and sustainable recipe for long-term success.

Based on recent evidence and results I would say the Power Play 26 program is ahead of schedule.

Leon Draisaitl - NHL Trade Rumors
Leon Draisaitl – NHL Trade Rumors – Edmonton Oilers

Paterka and Reichel

Keep an eye out for two other German forwards that could have their names called this evening or early tomorrow. Both John-Jason Peterka from Munich (DEL) and Lukas Reichel of Berlin (DEL) have been rated as first round selections in several draft rankings – you can find more information about both players here.

With three players ranked in the top rounds, one that will likely be taken as a top 3 overall selection, Power Play 26 appears to be working.  It is always a good sign when the game of hockey is still growing on a global scale!

Stay tuned to NHLTT for more coverage as the NHL’s 1st round unfolds later this evening.

NEXT: 2020 NHL Draft Details – A Full Draft Prep Recap

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