Only seven days remain before the 2019 National Hockey League entry draft and prospects from all over the world will be gathered to see their fate. Among the prospects, there are a few of them that will be coming from Germany.
The journey to the NHL is long and hard and while it’s still heavily dominated by the Canadian players, the Europeans are starting to gain more and more momentum. Over the next week or so, I will try to look at the players from the European leagues that could be stars in the NHL down the road and late round steals.
First up is Germany. We’ve seen quite a bit of top talent coming from Germany. Players like Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers and Philip Grubauer of the Colorado Avalanche have been stellar in the NHL. On the international scene, German hockey has created near miracles, something that Puck77’s Wally Mazurek also focused on in his article from earlier this week. But how do the Germans stack up ahead of the 2019 entry draft and what players from their leagues is worth keeping a small eye on during the draft?
Moritz Seider – Adler Mannheim – Defender
The next German star of the NHL is well within the cards for 18-year-old Moritz Seider. Talks have him to being taken mid-first round and for good reason. The Mannheim defender has had a dream season, where his first of many great achievements came when, at the age of 17, he took the German Under-20 team back to the World Juniors top division as its captain. To be the captain at that age is something unique, but his young age didn’t show in the tournament. He was a star player for the Germans, getting seven points in five games for the Germans.
In the domestic league, he helped Adler Mannheim win their seventh league title. And once again the young defender was a key part of it, playing 43 games for the club. While his points production wasn’t as good as it was at the junior levels, he held his own and played in all the 14 playoff games.
To end the season, he also got to shine doing the IIHF Worlds Championships, where he was playing extremely well for Germany, with strong play on the blue line on both sides of the zone. He never looked out of place on the German team and for a teenager playing against men and NHLers, that’s one of the biggest compliments to receive. Sadly, his tournament ended on a sour note as he was taken out with a minor injury against Slovakia.
Seider is possibly one of the best mid-to-late first rounders in a few years and with his size and speed he can become a great pick and, in my opinion, would be one of the major steals of the draft if he were to drop outside the top 20. He has all the tools and skills to become one of the better defenders in the league if he continues his development.
Simon Gnyp – Kölner Haie – Defender
Last year was a fantastic year for German hockey. Not only due to the success in the Worlds and Under-20 team getting promoted back to the Worlds Juniors, but also due to the success of the Under-18 team.
Under the leadership of captain Simon Gnyp, they also gained promotion to the top of Under-18 hockey. Like Seider, he also showed a great ability to get points from the blueline during this tournament as he grabbed eight points in just five games. A huge part of the reason for the promotion and its very likely that he will be a part of the World Juniors next winter for the Germans.
Gnyp has somewhat been overshadowed by Sieder in a lot of the German prospect talks, but Gnyp has played 14 games in the DEL against the best that Germany has to offer, and at only 17-years-old that is a monumental achievement. And while he wasn’t a regular in the Kölner line-up, he did manage to find a lot of success on the Under-20 level at Kölner EC U20, where he had 35 points in just 29 games. Being a point a game in any league is good. But when it’s done as a freshman in the junior league its worth taking note of.
His one weakness is his size. At only 5’11″ and 179 lbs., he is on the smaller side when it comes to the NHL build for a defenseman. However, as we seen with players like Jared Spurgeon and Samuel Girard, its more than possible to break into the NHL even with a smaller frame. I see him going in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he turns out to be one of those picks that people look back on with a lot of pride in a few years as he dons an NHL uniform.
Nino Kinder – Eisbären Berlin U20 – Center
The top scorer of the German Under-18 team and another part of the aforementioned team that gained promotion, Nino Kinder’s nine points was a key part in their success. Especially since he always found a way to score the key goals in the tournament, with very important tallies against Kazakhstan and Denmark.
Within Germany, he has mostly been apart of the Under-20 team in Berlin although he has had a small taste of Men’s hockey with five DEL games to his name. In the Under-20 league, he has been good and shown a lot of nice signs with a lot of offense. With 41 points in 33 games, and 17 goals to his name, its clear to see that he can find the back of the net at the junior level in Germany.
The major question now is if it can be transferred to the big leagues. Next season will be a very important year for him where he more than likely will feature more heavily in DEL. This is yet to be confirmed and this could scare off a lot of teams from looking his way despite a fine international showing, at least in the early rounds. I see him as a late pick, potentially even seventh round that by a team hoping that his skills at the junior levels will be showing as he takes the next step in his career.
Jan-Luca Schumacher – Jungadler Mannheim U20 – Center/winger
While Jan-Luca Schumacher has never played a game in DEL, his stats in the juniors in Germany is astonishing. Well over a point and a half per game in over 30 games for Mannheim tells the story of his talent. A great playmaker at the junior levels, he has all the tools to go quite far. At only 17, he has time to grow as well and he might have as he has a smaller frame.
Schumacher was a major part of the U18 German team who won the promotion, where he got six points. And like Kinder, he also made some key contributions along the way.
Schumacher and Kinder are very similar players and they both are going to have to show that they can break into the men’s league and transfer their fantastic play to the senior level. And that is a lot easier said then done, so his lack of senior level might hurt his draft stock, since the pure junior players that tend to be picked in the first couple of rounds are playing in the juniors in North America. Therefore, I feel he would be another late round pick from a team looking for a steal.
Statistics Provided By EliteProspects
Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals