On October 6, during Day 1 of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, the Ottawa Senators chose an 18-year-old German player named Tim Stutzle as the team’s round-one pick (3rd overall). That draft choice had belonged to the San Jose Sharks, but they traded it to the Senators as part of their trade for Erik Karlsson.
The Senators got lucky; they got a great young player in the 18-year-old. His reputation is that he has both a high hockey IQ and exceedingly strong on-ice skills. Furthermore, in addition to being smart and skilled, Stutzle is an amazing skater – smooth and fast.
In fact, some hockey insiders who’ve watched young players suggest that he reminds them of the Toronto Maple Leafs Mitch Marner. If that’s so, then the Senators got really fortunate. Marner has been one of the NHL’s leading point producers over the past three seasons – averaging more than a-point-a-game.
In fact, even as a young player, Stutzle scored seven goals and added 27 assists (34 points) in 41 games with the Mannheim Eagles of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL) last season. He’s already projected to play on the Senators top-line – perhaps even next season. He’s that good.
Suddenly, There Was a Break in Stutzle’s Development
However, hockey being what it is, writing Stutzle into the Senators top line next season didn’t look like it was a given – at least not at first. Earlier this month, Stutzle suffered an arm injury playing in Germany and it was immediately noted that he would have to miss two months of playing time. Not good news.
The Senators organization released a news report about a week ago that gave the prognosis on Stutzle’s injury. Senators general manager Pierre Dorion reported:
“In consultation with doctors in Germany and with our own medical staff, it has been determined that Tim requires a surgical procedure to stabilize a fracture. The procedure is scheduled to take place in Germany later this week and has an expected recovery time of six to eight weeks. Our medical staff will remain in regular contact with Tim and his doctors as he begins his recovery through to the point that he is medically cleared.”
That first prognosis suggested Stutzle would be ready to play again in early December, which would allow him to play for his home Team Germany in the World Junior Championships. That tournament is scheduled to be held in the Edmonton bubble.
Further news was that Stutzle did have surgery for a fracture; however, the prognosis didn’t change for his return date. However, there was good news. Specifically, although it was previously reported Stutzle had broken his arm, that wasn’t the case. It was a broken left hand, which is his non-shooting hand.
That doesn’t change the timetable for Stutzle’s recovery: it’s still six-to-eight weeks. However, because of when he was injured, he should be clear to play next season. In fact, he might even be ready to play in time for the projected beginning of the DEL season.
Stutzle’s Latest Update
Today in an article in The Athletic, Hailey Salvian updated Stutzle’s injury suffered in last week’s training with Alder Mannheim of the DEL. However, the article added more specificity to earlier reports. In today’s article, Salvian reported the Senators general manager Dorion as saying:
“Everything is positive, and we look forward to him joining Mannheim in six to eight weeks and, at the same time, having him play for the Ottawa Senators in the upcoming season.”
Dorion’s comment is interesting because, to be eligible to play with the Senators, Stutzle’s Mannheim DEL contract would have to be broken because the unique circumstances of living in a COVID-19-shaped offseason closed his signing window.
The rules states that a player with a valid European contract for the 2020-21 season can’t sign an NHL contract after August 15. However, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the DEL twice postponed its start date. That date is now scheduled to start in December.
Possible Changes to These Rules?
Although this might change, and I’ve really heard nothing specific about it – I have heard that the NHLPA’s Play-in Committee (or whatever it will be called) hasn’t begun to meet about a possible start date.
Rumor is that the NHL will tentatively begin on January 1, but who knows? However, if the DEL is forced to cancel its 2020-21 season, Stutzle would likely be released from his contract that expires in 2022. He would then be able to sign his entry-level contract with Ottawa. (from “Can Senators draft pick Tim Stutzle play in the NHL next year?, The Athletic, Hailey Salvian, 21/10/20).
It’s all very complicated. However, in all this, the good news is that the injury isn’t as serious as people believed and Stutzle will be on the ice again in less than two months.
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