Buffalo Sabres Top 20 Prospects under 24, #9: John-Jason Peterka

<em>Sought after, German-born forward has potential to succeed</em>

The Top 20 Under 24 is a collaboration by members of the Die By The Blade community. It was a combination of five staff writers and over 300 readers that ranked prospects under the age of 24 and have played less than 125 NHL games.

Unless you have been living under a rock, it is no secret that the Sabres have been in desperate need of a star center. While Jack Eichel has obviously proven his talent and worth as an elite player, we have not seen much else comparable at this position since - dare I say - Chris Drury? Or, more recently, Ryan O’Reilly? We all know how things ended with those two stars. And, while the intention has been to draft centers as of late, those that are brought up to Buffalo mysteriously end up on the wing. Case in point: Sam Reinhart (and, while he is great, we are still missing that extra center to open up secondary scoring). Is Peterka the missing ingredient?

The German-born forward already has quite the resume at the ripe young age of 18. Prior to being part of the 2020 NHL draft - selected in the second round by the Sabres and 34th overall - Peterka represented Germany in the World Junior Championships. There, he tallied six points in seven appearances.

According to EliteProspect’s NHL Draft Guide, his speed and puck-handling skills are impressive and, like some of our other ranked prospects, can be a real pain to his opponents on the ice. Grit has been noticeably absent for years from the Sabres’ ice and, quite frankly, they need a pest like Peterka.

Additionally, he can be dangerous on the powerplay thanks in part to his energy and fluid skating. However, he has also shown some inconsistencies carrying game-to-game momentum and even momentum from shift to shift.

Critics of Peterka have also said that his decision-making on the ice needs to be quicker and with less error. He can sometimes back himself into a corner (literally) and fail to create space for scoring opportunities. Is this correctable? Absolutely. Peterka has plenty of time to mature and improve.

In this past summer’s draft selection, Peterka was high up on the list for both the NHL and the Sabres. According to ESPN analysts, he should have been drafted in the first round but somehow made it to the second day. After snagging Jack Quinn in the first round, General Manager Kevyn Adams did not expect the bonus that was Peterka still being available on the second day. This is a player that the franchise wanted...badly. As seen in episode 3 of their “Embedded” series on YouTube, Adams spoke with San Jose’s GM and made a deal to swap second round picks and give up their 4th round pick (100th overall). In doing that, he was able to seal the deal and draft Peterka - an aggressive, but smart move made in conjunction with the Sabres’ new scouting staff.

The potential with Peterka is there and Sabres fans should be excited to see him develop over the coming years.