The Buffalo Sabres need a number of things to fall into place to end their 12-year playoff drought. Just as important getting good goaltending from Devon Levi and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, and improvement on the blueline with the additions of veterans Connor Clifton and Erik Johnson, the club will need their young forwards to show growth and maturity to relieve some of the scoring burden from top liners Alex Tuch, Jeff Skinner, and Tage Thompson. After a successful rookie season and with the injury to linemate Jack Quinn, the Sabres are looking to winger J-J Peterka to take the next step.
The 21-year-old scored nearly a point per game in his first season in North America with the Rochester Americans, Peterka graduated to the Sabres and posted 32 points (12 goals, 20 assists) last season, but the transition to the NHL schedule and higher level of competition was difficult.
JJ Peterka buries Jack Quinn's set-up to get the Sabres on the board first! 💪 pic.twitter.com/diJIF4UCkL
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 10, 2023
Lessons Learned As A Rookie
“(There were a) lot of ups and downs. There were like games where I played really good and then games where I wasn’t feeling it at all,” Peterka said to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman last month. “I think just overall, traveling with all the guys there, being on the ice, getting to the hotel late. It’s just learning how to be a pro…..how to get ready for games, getting my body ready, especially when you play back-to-backs and in different cities. Just to prepare yourself the best way you can.”
Peterka’s performance at the 2023 World Championships is an indicator of his potential to have a greater impact, as he led Team Germany to a silver medal and was named the top forward of the tournament. There will be more pressure on him, linemate Dylan Cozens and others like Casey Mittelstadt and Peyton Krebs to build on their offensive numbers in the wake of Quinn’s absence (whose ruptured Achilles in late June is expected to keep him out until the All-Star break).
JJ Peterka has made it 1-0 in the gold medal game.
Huge moment for the Buffalo Sabres forward.
— Steven Ellis (@SEllisHockey) May 28, 2023