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Buffalo Sabres’ Peterka Will Be A Star Forward

Forward J.J. Peterka, the Buffalo Sabres‘ young forward, has the potential to become another of the team’s stars. His stellar performance at the IIHF World Hockey Championship last month shows why. The international hockey tournament provided Peterka the opportunity to build the confidence he needs to produce. The experience he had in ten games for Team Germany complements what he learned in his two seasons in the AHL and the NHL. He excelled so impressively, (six goals, six assists in 10 games). In addition, he did earn the IIHF award for Best Forward in the tournament.

A Star is not Born — Development is Key

When the Sabres barely missed the playoffs this past season, the 21-year old finished with 12 goals and 20 assists in 77 games. During his interview on locker clean-out day in April, Peterka expressed some disappointment with his own performance. He seemed to have forgotten that it was his first full NHL campaign. Peterka reflected on the 77 games he played as having ups and downs. He went on to add, “there were times where, like, the puck just wouldn’t go in.”

Just a few years ago, Peterka was a student in Germany at the Red Bull Akademie. It was a hockey and soccer academy that also provides scholastic education. Back then, he was still dreaming of an NHL career. In an interview with Das Bild in November, 2019, the then-17-year old admitted that his hands were his strongest asset. His skating skills needed work. Months later, the Buffalo Sabres selected him in the second round of the 2020 draft, taking him 34th overall. A year after that, he went to play 70 games for the Rochester Americans in 2021/22, finishing with 28 goals and 40 assists. When the Amerks made the playoffs, the young star shone with seven goals in 10 games, including a hat trick. His performance earned him the honor of being named to the AHL All-Rookie Team. That season gave him a glimpse into professional playoff hockey and prepared him for the 2022/23 season with the Sabres.

IIHF World Championship Experience

Forward J.J. Peterka is emerging. Talent and experience are the brick and mortar for a strong foundation to excel in elite sports. In addition to Peterka’s success in the on-ice battles at the World Championship, there are two other factors that will enable him to become a star forward. First, German coach Harold Kreis benched him for the last period of the game against Austria. This was a surprise to both Peterka and his teammates, but the experience provided motivation for him for the rest of the tournament. The second factor is that up until its silver-medal victory this year, the German team had not had a medal since 1953. This is comparable to the Buffalo Sabres’ playoff drought.

Buffalo’s Peterka As a Star Forward Will Add to the Team’s Depth

Buffalo Sabres Peterka will add depth to this team. It seems that the IIHF World Championship competition has become an important factor in helping young hockey players gain confidence for competing in the NHL. Last year, Dylan Cozens, Peterka’s linemate on the “Kid Line,” entered the 2022 tournament with a goal to improve his game. Cozens followed that with a career-high NHL season. There is no reason not to believe that Peterka can also build on his experience at the Worlds and become a star for the Sabres. Peterka will continue to grow and improve with other young stars, such as Tage Thompson, Cozens, Jack Quinn, and Peyton Krebs. The Buffalo Sabres exceeded expectations and made a run for the playoffs, and it was a surprise in the hockey world. This coming season, for optimistic fans the playoffs are a foregone conclusion, while many fans still have hope-filled expectations. Peterka and the other stars on Buffalo will get the team three.

Main Photo: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports


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