German Draftee Situation

By Oliver Janz

How far is Portland away from Mannheim

How far away is Portland from Mannheim?

Washington Capitals’ draftee Robert Müller is going to leave Mannheim. The reason for this is his frustration at not getting to play many games this season. In 50 contests for his team, Müller only played 14 times, and did so as well as his goaltending partner Mike Rosati. However, Rosati has been the clear-cut number one netminder. He’s an (italo-)Canadian, has a lot of experience, has played in the NHL and is one of the best goalies in the German hockey league. If that’s an argument enough, Mannheim has won two championships with Rosati in goal. It’s not an easy situation for a backup goalie.

Müller is highly talented, for sure. The coach has the best goalie tandem in the whole league, except for maybe Nürnberg’s goalies Frederic Chabot (former LA Kings and Montreal goalie) and German Olympic sensation Marc Seliger. Chabot and Seliger share their job in Nürnberg’s goal. Various German hockey experts and fans have asked themselves why Mannheim’s coach hasn’t done that with Rosati and Müller. Müller needs the playing time for his development. Since Rosati signed a contract extension, Müller’s time in Mannheim will end after this season. It doesn’t look like he could get more ice time, so he’s figuring it’s better to change the team.

Where could he go? The first opportunity appears to be the Krefeld Penguins, one of the DEL’s top teams this season. At the moment, they have four goalies on their team: Roger Nordström from Sweden is the number one. Eric Fichaud is the former NHL and AHL goalie. Benjamin Voigt is the U20 goalie from Germany. Maurice Kamp, the goaltender from their junior team, rounds up the quartet. Krefeld contacted Müller in the course of the year and Müller is willing to sign a long term contract with the Penguins. He will most likely play 50 per cent of the games in the new season, while sharing his job with Nordström. Fichaud and Voigt appear to be leaving the team and Kamp should be the number three.

HF’s Prediction: Müller will play for Krefeld and wait for a call or assignment from Washington.

“Doesn’t stop developing”

With Müller going to Krefeld, who will be the new number two in Mannheim? According to himself, this will be Dimitri Pätzold, a 19 year old 2001 draft pick from the San Jose Sharks. Pätzold announced that he will not go into contract negotiations with his current team, Cologne. It’s nearly the same situation as in Mannheim. Pätzold is the number two behind former IHL goalie Chris Rogles, which is an even more difficult situation in order to garner some experience. 50 games have been played – and Pätzold’s number of “games played” is only 6! Cologne doesn’t want to burn him out, but only six games really allows for Pätzold to be a cheerleader for his teammates. During the Olympic break, the Kazakhstan-born goalie played for Duisburg in the second league. Like the year before for Erding in the same league, Pätzold played excellently.

The situation should change when Hans Zach takes over as coach of the Cologne Haie next season. There will be more talented Germans in the team yet there won’t be a German goaltender. Zach would like to see more German goalies in the league, although he is also using two foreigners on his current team (Kassel Huskies). Why? In Zach’s opinion, it’s not good for the development to have a German goalie as the back-up goalie. “In this day and age, young goalies need to play!” he stated. He thinks only Seliger or Müller are good enough to be a number one in a German team right now and the especially highly talented Pätzold isn’t the right guy to back up Rogles. So, Zach doesn’t have anything against Pätzold’s decision to leave Cologne.

However, will Zach like Pätzold’s new team, too? One apparent opportunity is for Dmitri to go to a North American junior team. This won’t happen since it’d be a step back from the pros to the juniors. The next opportunity is to go to a minor league team in Germany. This is possible but Pätzold prefers to sign and compete with a DEL team. The favorite is Mannheim. The other team he could sign for is Oberhausen. Mannheim is a championship favorite. The coach is known for his good work with young players and last but not least, Mannheim will pay more money. It’s only a question of time until Mannheim announces that they’ve signed Dimitri Pätzold.

HF’s Prediction: Pätzold will be the mid-term successor of Mike Rosati in Mannheim. North America is about two years away.

Needs to be promoted to the highest level

What does the future hold for Stefan Schauer, an Ottawa Senators draft pick? He’s currently playing for the second league based team SC Riessersee, where the current situation is pretty grim. They have financial problems and are in last place thus far this season. However, Schauer’s development doesn’t seem to be affected by all this. He’s simply received more ice time and the former DEL champion München Barons signed him to a two way contract for the rest of the season. Schauer will most likely stay in Riessersee, but he could play in one or two games for München by season’s end. München is also interested in Schauer for the coming season. The Senators and Schauer know that he’ll have to play at the highest level in Germany in order to start developing as an NHL prospect.

No question, Schauer will be in the DEL next season. Which team should he chose? The Barons are interested and one of the better teams. They have defenders who should help him in his development. Also interested are the Augsburger Panther, the team which tried to sign him at the start of this season. Other German talents like Morczinietz, Koslow or Rohde are under contract there as well. Augsburg is a low budget team without any big stars, which could make things better for Schauer to earn a spot. Otherwise, Schauer would like to stay in the Southern Bavarian area and a move to a team in say, Berlin, isn’t very likely.

HF’s Prediction: Schauer will move to München due to the good contacts between München’s GM to his agent.

Part Two will cover the draftees Dennis Seidenberg (Philadelphia), Christian Ehrhoff (San Jose) and Christoph Schubert (Ottawa).