Tim Stützle had an incredible breakout season in 2022/2023. In this article, I want to take a look at just exactly how Jimmy Stu jumped from promising future star, to one of the very best players in the league. We will also look back at some of the best moments from the German star this season and I will discuss what I would like to see from him starting next season.
Key Elements of Stützle’s Game
Tim Stützle is without a doubt one of the most exciting players to watch in the entire NHL. The skill that he possesses is among the very best and the creativity in the way he plays makes him must watch tv for even the casual fans. The flashy play from Stützle is also evident on the scoresheet night in and night out. This season, Stützle scored 39 goals and 51 assists for a total of 90pts in 78 games. The 21 year old saw a 32 point increase from his previous season, blowing away pre-season expectations. So what exactly changed? Why did Tim Stützle see such a drastic improvement from his previous season?
Utilized His Shot
The biggest area of improvement from Stützle this season was the use of his underrated shot. As discussed earlier, Stützle scored 39 goals which was a 17 goal improvement over last season. This is something nobody saw coming, Stützle has been regarded as a playmaker from the moment he was drafted, and he was always seen as someone who would rack up points via assists. Well, this season Timmy showed that his shot has the ability to beat the worlds very best goaltenders. When reflecting on this past season, it is remarkable at just how many ways Stützle was able to beat goaltenders. Whether it be from a one timer from Norris’s spot, his wrist/snap shots on the rush or simply undressing goalies with his moves. Stützle took a more shoot first attitude into play and boy did it ever work out.
Play Driving Ability
One of the main reasons for Stützle’s success this season is because of the way he can carry the puck in zone entries. Stützle has made it clear that he is a “one-man entry” and he has the ability to gain control of the opponents blue line with the puck on his stick. He is able to do this by combining his elite skating ability with his elite stick handling/puck control and this was a main contributor to the Senators elite PP this season. When watching Tim Stützle skate with the puck, I feel as though there is a magnet in his stick and the puck is stuck to his blade. He effortlessly weaves his way to open ice that didn’t seem like it would be available. The Senators of course run much of their offence through him when he is on the ice, which is another reason for his elite point totals this season. His ability to penetrate the defence and either make a play to one of his wingers or use his newly improved shot to beat the goaltender is why his point totals improved as much as they did.
Confidence And Creativity
There may be no other player I would rather watch than a confident Tim Stützle. It is so fun to watch him play when he is feeling it, you notice his creativity takes another jump forward and he makes moves that you would expect to see in an all star game. One example that sticks in my head from this season was in a game against Pittsburgh where Stützle got the puck on the blue line, made about 3 quick stick handles/head fakes and then danced around Sidney Crosby before walking down centre ice and scoring. Watching Tim Stützle make plays like that makes me so excited as a fan of the Senators and makes me wonder how elite he can truly become. Sometimes the creativity can be to his own detriment, but you take the good with the bad when you have a player of his calibre, and there is a lot more good than bad.
Improved 2-Way Game
Now as much as we would love it, the sens can’t always play in the oppositions end and you need your forwards to help out in the defensive zone. This was one of the biggest weaknesses for Stützle in his first couple of NHL seasons, he struggled to defend at the NHL level and consistently was hemmed in against top-level opponents. This season however, Stützle took a huge step in improving his 2-way game to the point where he became one of the primary penalty killers on the Sens. When Stützle was out on the penalty kill, he was always a threat to the other teams even when short handed, and opponents had to respect his abilities going the other way. Stützle also improved his 5v5 defensive play and was hemmed in for much less of the play than in previous years.
Possibly the most under-appreciated part of Tim Stützle’s game is his physical play. Timmy is not just a pure skill player but also forechecks and finishes his hits with the best of them. This speaks to his competitiveness which nobody can question, when things aren’t going his way, he takes it out on the opposing players. When the team needs a spark, he is willing to throw his weight around regardless of who it’s against. Tim is a special breed, he is able to dance and make pretty plays with the best of the best, but he is not soft in the way he plays which many skill guys can be considered. He is a competitor through and through, and is willing to do whatever it takes to help his team win games.
Expectations For 2023/2024
This is a hard one, Tim has shown his elite potential and each year has become a better and better player, but at the same time he is already playing at an elite level. On one hand, I could see Stützle having another year similar to this one production wise, especially with the return of Josh Norris. On the other, I could see Stützle take another step into being considered as one of the top 15 players in the entire league. I am expecting for Tim Stützle to have a season where he is in the 35-40 goal range and the 95-105 point range assuming he plays 82 games. As for this season, similar to Tkachuk it would be a crime to not give him an A+ for his performance.