In recent years, more and more Germans have been drafted by NHL clubs and have managed to successfully crack NHL lineups. The 2006-07 season featured several Germans playing prominent roles with their respective NHL teams. Along with the established German NHLers Jochen Hecht (BUF) and Marco Sturm (BOS), this past season witnessed no less than Dennis Seidenberg (CAR), Marcel Goc (SJ), and particularly Christoph Schubert (OTT) becoming established members of their respective NHL teams. Not to be forgotten is the steady rise of defenseman Christian Erhoff, who has become a regular blueliner for the San Jose Sharks and sees regular ice time in all game situations.
In the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, German players Korbinian Holzer (TOR, 4th round), Felix Schutz (BUF, 4th round) and Constantin Braun (LA, 6th round) each had their name called by NHL teams. Felix Schutz had spent the season playing in the OHL and was an expected mid-round pick, however, both Holzer and Braun were somewhat surprising picks. This past season, Holzer jumped from the 3rd to the 2nd German league and has just signed a contract with the DEL’s* Duesseldorf Metro Stars. Braun – who is currently a hulking 6’4 and 210 lbs. – had some growing pains this past season, which was split between the Eisbaeren Berlin’s DEL and their farm team playing in Germany‘s 3rd league.
With respect to the relatively low number of Germans having been drafted thus far this century, a somewhat interesting trend has been the number of German goalies NHL teams have picked. No less than Dmitrit Patzold (SJ, 5th round in 2001), Robert Muller (WAS, 9th round in 2001), Patrick Ehelechner (SJ, 5th round in2003) and Thomas Greiss (SJ, 4th round in 2004) have heard their names called in recent years. Ironically enough, only Muller has established himself as one of Germany‘s regulars in representing Germany in international play, having been joined in recent years by the undrafted goaltenders Alexander Jung, Dmitri Kotschnew and Oliver Jonas.
1. Timo Pielmeier, G
Wt: 172 lbs
Stats: 24-11 record, 2.17 GAA
This year, Germany is once again providing a top goaltending prospect, Timo Pielmeier. The 17-year-old goalie measuring in at 5’11 and 172 lbs. posted a win-loss record of 24-11 in the regular season followed by a 6-0 record in the playoffs leading his team the Cologne EC Junior Sharks to the league championship. His total of 2070 minutes played easily topped the US-Land Banking League, previously known as the DNL*, while his 2.17 GAA was tops among all goalies who had played at least 20 games during the regular season. In addition to this impressive achievement at home, he represented Germany at the international stage in both the U20 WJC and the U18 WC, helping Germany remain in the A-group at both competitions. Particularly impressive were his 3-2 victory against Latvia and 6-3 victory over the Czech Republic at the U18 WJC held in Tampere and Rauma, Finland. According to coach Ruppert Meister, his strengths lie in his very good positioning and balance as well as his ability to handle his stick and play the puck, something that has taken on more importance in the new NHL.
Hockey’s Future had the opportunity to ask Pielmeier a few short questions in preparation for the 2007 NHL Entry Draft this weekend in Columbus, Ohio.
HF: Are you aware that you are currently ranked 10th among European goalies for the upcoming NHL entry draft, and with that, you are the only goalie on the list hailing from Germany?
TP: I’ve been carefully following the draft lists via the Internet and I’m very proud that I’ve ended up ranked among the top ten goalies in Europe.
HF: Have you had any contact with NHL scouts in the course of this past season?
TP: Yes. Throughout the season, I’ve spoken with both NHL scouts and scouts from the CHL junior leagues.
HF: In the past season, you were named your league’s best goalie and put up a record of 6-0 in the USLB league on the way to winning the league championship. How would describe the past season? Have you taken some leaps forward in your development?
TP: This season couldn’t have gone better. I played in both the U20 WJC and the U18 WJC, where I was able to help Germany remain in the respective A-groups. This was topped off by winning the German Championship with the Junior Sharks.
HF: Your coach Rupert Meister is, himself, a former goalie who played at Germany’s top level. Has that played a special role for you and your development as a goalie?
TP: Yes, Coach Meister has worked very hard with me on my game and has taught me an incredible amount in my two years under his teaching.
HF: How you do plan on following the events taking place at this year’s draft this upcoming weekend?
TP: I’ll be staying up late into the night with my laptop and following the draft live online.
2. Denis Reul, D
CSS Ranking: 16th Height: 6’4 Weight: 213 lbs
Heilbronn Falcons, 3rd League
Mannheimer Junior Adler DNL**
Denis Reul made quite a leap onto the scene this past season. The large 18-year-old defenseman presents a package featuring an all-around mix of skating, shooting, passing and often brutal physical play, but is a work in progress in all those areas. Noted for sometimes being tipsy and uncoordinated, Reul does have some major work to do on his general leg and torso strength, but the tools are all there to one day make to the NHL as a defensive defenseman. As a boy among men, he presented himself quite well playing for the third leagues Heilbronn Falcons, who managed to qualify for Germany’s 2nd league next season. Reul also made a splash in Finland at the U18 WC, having been used in all game situations and finishing as Germany’s top scorer among defenseman and tied for second overall on the team. In a draft that seems to be wide open, especially in the middle rounds, the general consensus is that Reul will find himself a member of an NHL organization by this Sunday.
3. Thorsten Ankert, D
CSS Ranking: 59th Height: 6’2 Weight: 218 lbs
Cologne Sharks (DEL)
Essen Moskitos, 2nd League
Thorsten Ankert is yet another player coming from the Cologne Sharks system. He is an overager who was among the Germany’s top five prospects in 2006, but he wasn’t drafted. The large defenseman featuring NHL mass was, however, able to improve this past season. He managed to play in six more DEL games than he did in 2005-06 and jumped from –2 to +6 in the process. He also played a good half a season taking a regular shift in Germany’s 2nd Bundesleague, which is quite a jump from the DNL, where he spent the bulk of his time in 2005-06. In general, Ankert will go as far as his size and sound skating will take him. Although his current stats speak otherwise, he is projected to one day be an offensive defenseman, and the question still remains as to where, in what capacity and if he’s ready to take the steps necessary to be an average DEL defenseman or to one day find himself in the NHL.
Seven other German players have been ranked by CSS:
No. Pos. Player Team DOB Height Weight
#81 C David Wolf MANNHEIM 15-Sep-89 6´2 196
#123 RW Steven Rupprich EISBAREN 15-Apr-89 6´0 187
#139 C Elia Ostwald EISBAREN 17-Mar-88 6´7 218
#147 C Alexander Oblinger MANNHEIM 17-Jan-89 6´3 209
#155 LW Andre Huebscher KREFELD 8-Jan-89 5´11 187
#162 C Martin Hinterstocker ROSENHEIM 3-Sep-89 5´11 174
#170 W Marcel Müller EISBAREN 10-Jul-88 6´4 214
Dropping a bit out of the scouting service’s grace this past season were the players Henry Martens, Maximilian Brandl and Alexander Weiss, each of whom spent part of the last season playing with at least one men’s league team. Martens saw ice time in 30 DEL games with the Cologne Sharks while Weiss established himself as a regular third/fourth liner for the Eisbaeren Berlin, having racked up 5 goals, 7 assists, 12 points and a +4 in 50 DEL games. Brandl had 7 goals, 16 assists in 51 games for the 2nd Bundesleague Landshut Cannibals, numbers that were generally regarded as not having met expectations. All three are highly regarded in Germany.
*DNL = Deutsche Nachwuchs-Liga (German Young Prospects League)
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