So first over all, this is definitely one topic I am most interested in, since you all know I am the German one at Hearts.
There are quite a number of guys in the NHL who came from my country and I am sure not everyone is aware of how their hockey life was before the US or Canada. For players here it’s a dream to play in America and for some the dream never comes true or they are drafted and never play for that team or their AHL team. It’s super hard to even get the chance. Often, they play with a team in the CHL or USHL when they are 16 to 18 years with the hopes for being good enough to be able to be in the AHL. Sometimes it works for them, sometimes it does not and they have to come back to Germany. Dominik Kahun is one example for that. Now he is one of the best young players in Germany and is a forward for Red Bull Munich.
For sure the first player who came to your mind when I started talking about German players in the NHL was Leon Draisaitl. Still it’s not just him. Thomas Greiss, Philipp Grubauer, Korbinian Holzer, Tom Kühnhackl, Tobias Rieder and Dennis Seidenberg are common names if you’re fan of the team, or just know them because they are good players. But where did they actually come from? How did they manage to come to play in the NHL? Why are they even there?
1) Leon Draisaitl
His career started in Cologne where he went through all the youth teams until he reached the age of 14, when he changed teams to play for the Adler Mannheim on the U16 team. In his first season he started making new records with 103 points. 48 goals and 55 assists in 26 games. The year after, his points were exceptional: In 29 games he netted 97 goals and had 95 assists. Scouts from the US were surely interested in and saw a lot of talent in him. In 2011 he started playing for the Jungadler Mannheim what is a team in the German Development League (DNL U20) where his talent was seen again. He and Dominik Kahun were the ones who shot the most goals and had the most assist in that year. After these amazing years he was drafted in 2012 round 1 #2 overall by the Prince Albert Raiders WHL. In the beginning I talked a little about Dominik Kahun and again he was named again. Kahun was the same age as Draisaitl and both were amazing talents. He was also drafted in the 2012 CHL Entry Draft by the Sudbury Wolves OHL, where Kahun played two seasons but never made the step to the AHL or NHL.
2) Tom Kühnhackl
Tom Kühnhackl. His last name is one what’s very known here. (Erich Kühnhackl, the father, was once a good player in Germany.) Kühnhackl's career began when he was five years old and started to play for the youth teams of Landshut (Bavaria). In the DNL year 2007-2008, in 33 games he had 42 points what lead the coach of the first team - the EV Landshut – to also let him play there. After that Tom was nominated for the U17 national team. He shot from 2008 to 2010 23 goals for the EV and had 19 assists. Shortly after his amazing performance in the second league he was drafted at the CHL Import Draft by the London Knights who gave the transfer rights to the Windsor Spitfires. Kühnhackl got the opportunity in the following season to play for the Augsburger Panther in the DEL where he played 4 games (meanwhile he still played for Landshut in the DEL2). America was calling so he decided to leave Germany and start a career in the US.
3) Philipp Grubauer
The next name is Philipp Grubauer I want to mention. He was born in a small town called Rosenheim what’s near Munich in Bavaria where he also started his hockey career. Grubauer is a goalie now playing for the Washington Capitals but he sadly never really gets the chance to play and that’s the reason why I think that not many really know him. In Rosenheim he made his debut at 16 for the main team where he played 5 games and 23 still for the DNL. Right after that was the CHL Entry Draft of 2008 where he was drafted by the Belleville Bulls who he was with for 2 years. Grubauer also played for the Windsor Spitfires (2010), Kingston Frontenacs (2010-2011), South Carolina Stingrays (2011-2012), Hershey Bears (2012-2014) and after that since 2014 he has been the backup goalie for the Washington Capitals.
4) Korbinian Holzer
When he was young, Holzer played for the Development League of the team called EC Bad Tölz, the coach saw he was playing well there and let him play for their professional team that was part of the second League in Germany at that time. One year later in 2006 he started playing for the Eisbären Regensburg, also a team of the second league. That same year was the NHL Entry Draft where he was drafted round 4, #111 by the Toronto Maple Leafs but instead of playing there he signed a two year contract in the German first league with a team called DEG Metro Stars what is now labeled Düsseldorfer EG. 2010/2011 he then went to play in North America for the Toronto Marlies where he had three goals and 10 assists (remembering he is a defenseman).
5) Tobias Rieder
Tobias was playing one year later than Tom Kühnhackl for the DNL Team of Landshut. In 2006/07 he still played for the U16 team and achieved 113 Goals and 64 assists in 34 Games. In 2009 he started to play for the Landshut Cannibals and had 23 points. The 2010/2011 season started for him in Canada, with the Kitchener Rangers where he shot 23 goals in his first season; one year later he was top scorer for them with 42 goals and 43 assists. Rieder was able to get 3 trophies from the Rangers: Blueline Cup Trophy for Most Gentlemanly Player, 570 News 3 Stars Award, and the Jim Reilly Trophy Scoring Champion. With that, he was next to Cody Sol, the player with the most earned trophies. In 2013, Rieder was traded by the Edmonton Oilers (who picked him 4th round, 114th overall in the NHL Entry Draft 2011) to the Phoenix Coyotes. His first NHL goal directly happened at his NHL debut against the Washington Capitals. That wasn’t the only magical thing that happened to him, he also was lucky enough to score against his former employer Edmonton Oilers two short-handed goals 58 seconds apart, faster than any other rookie.
6) Thomas Greiss
Greiss was born in Füssen, a city home to a well known German monument: Castle Neuschwanstein. But not just the castle is important in Füssen, also hockey because of its location where every Hockey national team of Germany starts their road trips and has their preparation. He started his career in the youth team of EV Füssen in 1992. He was with each youth team possible there until 2002, when he left to play for the Kölner Haie where he first backstopped for the U20 team. In 2003/04 left an old goalie from Cologne and Greiss got his chance to substitute for the main team of the Kölner Haie, who gave him a promotional license so he could have game time at a team who needs him while playing some games in the DEL. He was very calm in the goal which made him appear professional. At the NHL Entry Draft of 2004 he was picked round 3 #94 overall by the San Jose Sharks. He had a contract until 2006 with the Kölner Haie and he signed another until 2009, but the Sharks knew they wanted him and made him an offer to play in the AHL for the Worcester Sharks. In November 2006 he had his debut for the NHL when he was the backup tender in a game against the Philadelphia Flyers.
7) Dennis Seidenberg
This one is not too special to talk about because his youth career isn’t that well documented but he started his way up to the NHL in his local club, the Schwenninger ERC, where he had his debut in the DEL2 when he was 16 years old. In the year after, he changed clubs to play for the Adler Mannheim, where he was taken to the DNL. But very soon he got his first three first league games. In 2001 he was a professional, playing for the Adler Mannheim and made his statistics look better than the season before so the Philadelphia Flyers were very interested in the young Seidenberg, so they picked him in the 2001 NHL-Entry Draft round 6 #172 overall. He got the chance to play for the Flyers and also for the farm team of them. Seidenberg has been with the Philadelphia Flyers, Arizona Coyotes, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, and for the Boston Bruins. In 2012 he played shortly for the Adler Mannheim and since 2016 he is part of the New York Rangers.
Sarah is Hearts of Hockey's only writer whose native language is not English. While the article has been edited for clarity and small grammatical errors, it was important to leave the article true to how it is written to maintain the essence of the writer's work and personal language touch.