Less than a week after the Ottawa Senators chose him with their first pick (3rd overall) in the NHL Entry Draft, German forward Tim Stuetzle has suffered a broken hand. Stuetzle was injured yesterday while training with his German team, Adler Mannheim. There were no further details on how exactly he was injured or whether it happened on or off the ice. But, in a news release today, Sens’ GM Pierre Dorion seemed good and calm about the prognosis.
“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,” Dorion said. “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.”
With a six to eight-week recovery window, Stuetzle should have plenty of time to recover in time for Senators’ training camp and the new NHL season, likely to begin around January 1st. He’s certainly no lock to make the team in his very first season, but most scouts believe he has a good chance.
While the bulk of first-round NHL draft picks come from the amateur ranks, Stuetzle played against men in Germany’s top professional league last season. The 18-year-old thrived in his rookie year there, posting 34 points in 41 games. Stuetzle ranked seventh in club scoring despite being the youngest full-time player in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga.
His success in that league suggests he may have a leg up on his peers and be more prepared than most for the speed and physicality of the NHL. He looked very poised last winter at the World Junior Hockey Championship in the Czech Republic, putting up five assists in five games.
Stuetzle was one of Ottawa’s three first-round picks in the draft last week and mending a repaired hand was not at all the offseason the club had envisioned for him. Ottawa later grabbed defenceman Jake Sanderson at number five overall and centre Ridly Greig at number 28. As far as we know at this moment, both those first-rounders are still in one piece.
Assuming everything goes well, this hand injury should be regarded as the tiniest of setbacks in Stuetzle’s career. But given the club’s news cycle and misfortunes over the past three seasons (2018: 30th place, 2019: 31st place, 2020: 30th place), optimism takes some effort. When seeing the Stuetzle headline today, there’d be more than a few die-hards out there who instantly wondered: “What else can go wrong for this team?”
But reality paints a rosier picture and Stuetzle will be fine. He’s one of several sturdy new cornerstones in the Sens’ rebuild and it’s coming along nicely.