The 2020 NHL Draft will have some very interesting moments. One of them could be where does Tim Stutzle and Quinton Byfield go? One will go second, and one will go third. Most believe this will happen, and most think they know the order, but the teams may have something else in mind like the time the Columbus Blue Jackets made the audience gasp when they selected Pierre-Luc Dubois 3rd overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. The Jackets did this because they felt like they were drafting a top-line center. In the end, that worked out for them.
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Tim Stutzle (5-11, 187) has been playing left wing, similar to Dubois at that age, and has been practicing playing center. He told me he wants to be drafted as high as possible and he knows that centers have a higher value. Presumably, he’ll try and play center for Adler Manheim in the DEL when they officially hit the ice October 30th. If he indeed plays center at that time, teams will be able to scout him at that position and determine how that might work out over time. He certainly has the vision capable of doing it.
Quinton Byfield (6-4, 214) is a natural center. He’s been playing there and excelling at the position. For a while, he was the presumptive #2 in this draft, but as this draft season has progressed way past a normal one, maybe the extra looks, or maybe extra nitpicking has now put the second spot up for grabs. He plays defense like a center is supposed to. His puck strips are really good and when he gets the puck, he’s fully capable of taking the puck the other way to lead the rush and set up a scoring chance.
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Stutzle doesn’t play against a lot of backpressure in the DEL. Now, that doesn’t mean he can’t come to North America and show that he can indeed play with it. We just don’t know at this time. For the times Stutzle has played in North America, and they were limited, he enjoys the tight-checking game. He feels he has to react faster and likes that. This prospect is a playmaker, and he enjoys fooling defenders into thinking he’s contained. He has another gear, and he’s a terrific directional skater. His wrist shot is a weapon because of the flex he gets on his stick and the power behind it. He has a better shot between the two.
Byfield is a power forward. Stutzle isn’t. That’s a factor. Normally power forwards take longer to develop, but this Sudbury Wolves star may just buck that trend. Both players will probably try and play in the NHL right away. Both players have quick hands, but I’d say Byfield is more of a threat around the net. Byfield may have quicker hands but this is something they both possess and it’s really close.
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If it were me, I would take Byfield with the second pick. If I’m going match them up at the center position, today, Byfield is the better center, and we don’t know if Stutzle will succeed at the position. If not, he can always be an all-star winger. Byfield is better on draws, and he’s better defensively at this moment in time. I think this is close. I could see the Kings drafting either player. I wouldn’t put too much stock into the Kings great center depth because one or two of them could end up playing on the wing. It comes down to who is the better player since they may both ending up in the same position. Stutzle may have more upside here, but Byfield is the safer pick.