Buffalo Sabres Top 25 Under 25: #7 JJ Peterka

The German forward is a testament to the organization’s synergy on player development, and to the future ahead.

The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Die By The Blade community. It was a combination of staff writers and over 600 readers that ranked Buffalo Sabres players under the age of 25 as of August 1, 2022. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production to rank each player.

JJ Peterka provides exciting possibilities for a young team on the rise. The German forward with accuracy, physicality and speed should feature prominently in the Sabres’ future, already showing promise all over the offensive zone.

“He has no idea how good he can be yet, which is scary,” Amerks assistant coach Michael Peca said at development camp. I tend to agree. Through 70 games in the AHL regular season, Peterka was two points shy of 70, netting 28 goals and 40 assists. He also made a splash during the Americans’ Calder Cup run, with seven goals and five assists across ten games.

Watching his highlights in Rochester, he looks like a big fish in a little pond. Peterka is physical and powerful, but also has finesse and touch with the puck on his stick. Every assist last season was patient and precise.

Each goal (even some of the empty netters) showed the combination of speed and power Peca spoke so highly of.

Under the watchful eyes of the Americans’ coaching staff — Seth Appert, Michael Peca and Mike Weber — Peterka has refined the less stellar parts of his game. He’s now more able to harness his skating ability in the defensive zone, and be more of an asset than a hindrance.

Obviously, all of the top players on our Top 25 Under 25 are emblematic of the future for the Sabres. There’s clear synergy between Rochester and Buffalo, and talent harnessed in ways we’ve not seen in the organization for quite some time. I cannot say “the future is bright” enough.

That said, Peterka is a particularly important symbol of where the team is headed. The organization took a player with his raw talent and refined it, such that Peterka could be an immediate contributor to the Sabres (assuming he makes the roster, which is a pretty safe bet at this point). He’s a symbol of the organization’s relative health, at least when it comes to its pipeline of talent and what they’re able to do with it.