This one is going to be fun to write. The premise for this article is what has it been like to be a fan of Tim Stützle through his rookie season. Are there bad parts? How bad are the bad parts? Are there good parts? If so, what are they and do they outweigh the bad parts? Lastly, what will change between this year and next year? Can he improve? Will he improve?
Alright, lets dig it in to what has genuinely been a very unique fan experience. As much as I hate to do it, what are the bad parts? First and foremost Timmy, or as Ottawa Senators Fans have come to know him Jimmy, does currently have flaws. What are they? Well, the biggest flaw or aspect holding Tim back from reaching the next level and ultimately increasing he usage and ice time is his defense. Has his defense been atrocious? No. In fact, he has demonstrated some swift take away abilities against very talented players. That should be highly encouraging. What is the biggest thing holding him back in this area? Conditioning. That sounds incredibly peculiar doesn’t it? How does his conditioning impact his defensive play and how is a kid that played over 30 minutes in games at the WJC not in incredible condition? The short answer is he is in good condition, but it is different. Ice hockey is an anaerobic sprint and Tim’s defensive struggles are largely linked to lack of aggression in the defensive zone which is caused by Tim attempting to conserve energy for a dangerous offensive transition. Tim’s defensive mechanics, positioning, and awareness are fine, but he clearly holds back when pursuing the puck. Then look at WJC, Tim may have played more than 30 minutes, but his level of play in those games actually deteriorated as those games progressed. If you did not notice a change in his caliber of play by the 3rd period of those games, that is unfortunate because I assure you it affected him and his line. Tim(and the other members of his line) went from elite vision, puck movement, and high speed skill. To forcing passes, missing open players, and trying to do too much individually because he was gassed. The NHL is different. It is faster, stronger, and better than any level Tim has experienced to this point. In other words to keep up Tim has to use his max effort every shift. Right now his Max effort limit looks to be roughly 30 seconds of constant sprint. He extends the 30 seconds to 45 seconds by conserving his energy in the defensive zone. Outside of defense does conditioning effect any other aspect of his game? Yes. Tim has a very special ability to connect on high danger 2nd read or outside the flow of the game passes. When he is gassed, he more often turns the puck over attempting these passes than connecting on them. Is this improvable? Yes, as a matter of fact, with the right work ethic it might be the easiest thing to improve in hockey. After this season I imagine Tim will train to extend his max sprint time and increase leg strength for even more top speed and strength carrying the puck. How will improving this make a difference? I do not even have to list the ways as much as point readers in the direction of Joel Farabee. Over the offseason Joel Farabee trained and improved his strength and conditioning, confidence with and without the puck, and more limitedly his base skills. The result? 11 goals 9 assists for a combined 20 points in 21 games played. Tim needs to be able to go 100% in every zone for 1:30. No, I am not saying he starts taking 1:30 shifts. I am saying if he can continually sprint on ice at full effort for well past his shift length he will be effective, aggressive, and dominant in all zones for an entire game. Also it could be linked to conditioning, but the other issue that needs to be fixed is he stops moving his feet sometimes and it gets him in trouble. Should not be too difficult to work out that kink.
Now, we get to look at the fun part. If anyone has told you Tim/Jim has looked anything short of a future star they are giving you misinformation. His hands, vison, and speed are already well above the average of the NHL and both his hands and speed may be closer to the actual top of the NHL than the average. As Tim develops his game at the NHL level, the things that make him a really enjoyable player to follow will continue to improve. He is not perfect, but he is learning. The things he has showed at the NHL level right now should inspire a significant amount of hope of what he will be capable of when his potential is fully realized. It will not be a breeze though and while I have seen nothing to suggest Tim will be content at his current level, Ottawa needs to make sure he pushes himself to improve in the off season. Tim is already drawing special attention from opponents at 19 years old. That is probably the biggest testament to being a game changing presence a young player can receive. To get special treatment from other teams at such a young age implies he is already worth their attention and effort to slow down. What makes it more significant is he still has so much room for growth to fully realize his potential.
Aside from the hockey side has it been fun being a fan of Tim Stützle this season? Yes. They are not the best team, but being a fan of rebuilding program is more fun than people would think. Every win feels special. The Sens also have a young core that is really starting to Gel with each other and it has been nothing short of a fantastic to experience some of those young kid moments. Imagine what must be a locker room/frat like environment of Brady Tkachuk, Josh Norris, and Tim Stützle living in the same house together is fun. Watching this struggling’s best players all be age 25 or younger is really special to see the build chemistry so early. The thought has to cross people’s minds, imagine how in sync these players will be after multiple years of sharing the ice together. I am not going to declare the Senators future champions or anything, but it has and will continue to be fun to support their young organization.
Before I end it I will leave it with some neat videos just so anyone that wants can enjoy the skill level of Tim Stützle
Last One although there are obviously more. The kid is fun to watch.
- CFTP – B. Driscoll