Fresh off of a dominant 5-1 win against the Wilkes Barre Scranton Penguins, the Rochester Americans held a practice skate Thursday to begin preparing for Friday’s matchup against the Cleveland Monsters.
After practice, I jumped on a media call and got in a few questions for the Amerks Head Coach Seth Appert, and recently acquired prospect, center Peyton Krebs.
Head Coach Seth Appert
With Amerks forwards, J.J. Peterka and Jack Quinn, lighting up the score sheet already this season, I asked Coach Appert who else has stood out to him on this Rochester team. The affable Appert began by touting his defense corps, in particular mentioning Mattias Samuelsson and Casey Fitzgerald, and complimenting both blueliners as “stabilizing forces” in their own end.
Further expanding on the question, Appert went on to speak highly of Matej Pekar, whom he commended for growing his game “exponentially” despite not always showing up on the score sheet. He specifically referenced Pekar’s growing role on the penalty kill unit as something he could not have predicted last year. However, according to Appert, Pekar made “massive strides over the summer” which has led to him becoming a very effective player for the Amerks this season.
I then brought up newly signed, veteran center, Mark Jankowski, whom the coach was quick to praise. Appert extended his appreciation for Jankowski’s leadership, and parlayed that into complimenting the veteran leadership on the entire Amerks team, telling me that the veterans on the squad were still very hungry to get to the NHL level.
Back to Jankowski, Appert was particularly impressed with Jankowski’s “cerebral, calm” pace, especially in the defensive zone. He mentioned the big man’s multiple contributions as a first line center, special teams player, and in the faceoff circles. He then zeroed in on Jankowski’s recently increased physical play which the coach was very pleased with.
Lastly, I checked in on the development of defenseman Mattias Samuelsson. Appert complimented the towering blueliner’s defensive game, noting that he hasn’t seen much rust after Samuelsson’s recent injury. Appert did mention that Samuelsson’s puck touches, breakout ability and transitions have been solid, but have not been at “the elite level” which is what the club expects from him. That said, he anticipates that Mattias will continue to grow and improve in those areas of the game. All told, it was high praise for a promising young Sabres prospect.
Next up, I spoke to one of the top prospects in the Sabres organization, newly acquired Peyton Krebs. I asked the talented center who he modelled his game after to which Krebs told me that he doesn’t necessarily replicate his game after one particular player. However, Krebs did say that he does review video clips of Sidney Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon, Brayden Point, and Mathew Barzal. Certainly a pretty good list of players to model one’s game after.
When asked if he was comfortable at all three forward positions, Krebs was confident in his reply, noting that he’s been a center his whole life, so he sees himself sticking with that position, but would play in any position in order to make the NHL.
At this point, I decided to lighten things up and ask him how he likes Rochester so far. Krebs showed off his easy-going personality, complimenting the trees and the buildings in Rochester, but relaying that he hasn’t had much time to get to know the city yet.
Aside from Rochester’s strong flora game, Krebs also spoke very highly of a few of his Amerks teammates. He mentioned that his World Juniors teammate, Jack Quinn, has given him a ride to the rink on a few occasions as it would appear that their chemistry is developing both on and off the ice. This was recently evident when Krebs dished out a silky assist on a Jack Quinn goal during the last Amerks game. Krebs also reminded me that he has previously played with Rochester defenseman, Jimmy Schuldt, in Henderson last season. Regarding the Americans locker room leaders, Krebs highlighted that Samuelsson and Rochester center Ryan Scarfo have both welcomed him onto the team.
I asked him about his relationship with fellow Jack Eichel trade center-piece and former Golden Knights teammate, Alex Tuch. Peyton told me that he and Tuch have stayed in touch since the trade and that he knows him well from their time with Vegas. In what was a very positive and insightful comment, Krebs said that both he and Tuch had talked about how “great of a guy” Sabres GM Kevyn Adams is and how excited Adams was about the future of the Buffalo Sabres.
Finally, I wrapped up with a brass-tacks hockey question and asked the Alberta native if he grew up a Flames or Oilers fan. The genial Krebs told me that he was a “hybrid” fan of both the Oilers and the Flames growing up. In what was a fun, personal response to my question, Krebs said both of his parents grew up in Northern Alberta which made them Oilers fans. However, Krebs admitted that he enjoyed attending Calgary games throughout his youth, which led him to ultimately acknowledge that he had been more of Flames fan — so there you have it.
In my opinion, head coach Seth Appert appears to be a very energetic and positive coach. His responses to my questions were all measured with honesty and therefore came across as extremely genuine. His thoughtful, yet direct, replies showed me exactly why he has an outstanding reputation as a head coach and in developing younger players.
Regarding Peyton Krebs, he certainly looks to be very mature for his age. Even though it was a small sample size, Krebs’ poise and demeanor were very noticeable, especially for a player who has a lot of expectation riding on his shoulders.
All in all, I was very fortunate to get a chance to talk with two cornerstones of the Buffalo Sabres future, and I came away not only impressed, but extremely optimistic.
Many thanks to the Rochester Americans Public and Media Relations Coordinator Ryan Harr who was very courteous and welcoming. And of course, a big ‘thank you’ to the DBTB team captain, Melissa Burgess, who set up my participation in the media event.