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Sabres Grades: Peterka, Top Line Only Bright Spots



Buffalo Sabres grades Edmonton Oilers JJ Peterka

Aside from JJ Peterka and his line, the Sabres Grades are ugly from the Buffalo Sabres’ 8-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday. The Sabres kept things close against the Oilers for two periods despite giving up the better shot quality. The third period tipped the bridge, and only three Buffalo players garnered an above-average grade.

Must Read: Six Straight Goals Propel Oilers Past Sabres

If you missed the introduction to the grading system, we’re assigning letter grades to each Buffalo player based on game performance. The letter grades are assigned based on statistical computation, taking into account the following factors:

  • Production
  • Quality of offense
  • Quality of defense
  • Volume of offense
  • Volume of defense
  • Powerplay performance
  • Penalty kill performance
  • Penalties drawn and taken
  • Role
  • Minutes played
GradeLower LimitUpper Limit


JJ Peterka

Grade: B+

Production: B+
Offense: B
Defense: C-
Special Teams: B

JJ Peterka was promoted to the top line with Tage Thompson and Alex Tuch, and the move immediately paid dividends. He notched the first goal in the game and added another in the second period. The line drew a tough matchup against Connor McDavid, Evander Kane, and Zach Hyman most of the night and went toe-to-toe.

It’s the first run that Peterka is receiving with Thompson as his center exclusively, as Dylan Cozens is his most common centerman. The German winger has also had extensive stints with Peyton Krebs and the now-traded Casey Mittelstadt.

His addition creates a big, fast, and offensively dangerous top unit, at the expense of some depth scoring. Peterka’s topped the Sabres Grades plenty of times already, but if he sticks with Thompson and Tuch he should see plenty more of the “studs” column.

Alex Tuch

Grade: B

Production: C
Offense: B
Defense: C-
Special Teams: B

Alex Tuch was on a mission throughout the game, demanding the puck on his stick and making some nifty passes. His one-handed assist to Peterka on the first goal while battling was crafty.

The Tuch and Thompson combo is finally starting to string together some solid performances. It’s just a question of whether the rest of the forward group can support them.

Tage Thompson

Grade: B-

Production: C
Offense: B-
Defense: C
Special Teams: B

The third-best grade of Sabres Grades was a “B-“. The third member of the top line completes the sweep of the “studs” column, albeit with some modest scores. Still, he graded over 13% better than the next-best player.

It will be interesting to learn of Granato’s evaluation of the line. On one hand, they worked well together and created the offense necessary to help the team win. On the other hand, the rest of the forwards struggled mightily and seemed to lack secondary scoring power.


Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen

Grade: F

Whether or not you thought Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen was to blame for Buffalo’s third-period meltdown, conceding eight goals to your opponent will put a goalie in the “duds” column nearly every night.

The Darnell Nurse shot that started the late barrage of Oilers goals should’ve never gone in. The Sabres could’ve also used saves on the Leon Draisaitl powerplay goal that snuck through him and the kooky Zach Hyman goal off his glove. Both goals were late in their respective periods and could’ve helped give Buffalo some wiggle room.

Zemgus Girgensons

Grade: D-

Production: D+
Offense: F
Defense: D+
Special Teams: N/A

The counter-move to the JJ Peterka promotion was the demotion of Zemgus Girgensons to the third line with Jeff Skinner and Peyton Krebs. The trio did not work well at all, generating next to nothing in terms of offense.

The Oilers iced their third line against Girgensons and company, proving the much deeper team right now. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Adam Henrique, and Corey Perry took it to them, with about 70% of the shot share and 65% of the shot quality on the ice together.

Peyton Krebs

Grade: D-

Production: F
Offense: F
Defense: C-
Special Teams: N/A

We discussed Peyton Krebs in a more proficient scoring role just weeks ago. After a week of average performances between Peterka and Skinner, the center had his worst game in a while.

Aside from five hits and a giveaway, Krebs was invisible. Not a shot attempt, not a shot assist, nothing.

There’s supposed to be a different level his game can develop to. I’m not sure we haven’t seen the maxed-out version of Krebs in the NHL already.

Jj PeterkaF70%B+
Alex TuchF67%B
Tage ThompsonF57%B-
Jordan GreenwayF43%C
Rasmus DahlinD40%C
Bowen ByramD40%C
Dylan CozensF35%C-
Zach BensonF35%C-
Connor CliftonD31%C-
Lukas RousekF31%C-
Owen PowerD30%D+
Victor OlofssonF26%D+
Henri JokiharjuD23%D+
Tyson JostF23%D+
Jacob BrysonD16%D
Jeff SkinnerF16%D
Peyton KrebsF12%D-
Zemgus GirgensonsF12%D-
Ukko-Pekka LuukkonenG0%F