Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – As I’ve watched the Buffalo Sabres practice on Wednesday and Thursday, I looked to see if the more highly ranked prospects dominated. So far, 2020 second round pick J-J Peterka hasn’t disappointed.
Peterka has a very good scoring touch and is very shifty in what he does. He’s also not afraid to engage in battle along the wall, and he seems to really hone in on getting pucks back. His skating is excellent, and he seems to have a real feel for the game.
Buffalo moved up to take Peterka 34th overall, because they, like some other teams, had a first round grade on him.
The native of Munich, Germany had never been to Buffalo until he arrived last Saturday. That’s not easy for a 19-year-old kid to leave home and have to navigate a new country and a new city on his own. Peterka said there was a certain anxiousness to coming to North America.
“I was so curious about it," he said following Wednesday's practice at Harborcenter. Soo excited, and then first I had visa problems getting here, but I’m finally here and I like it.”
Peterka has played professional hockey in Germany for two years, which pitted him against men. He said it will help him as he moves forward in the American Hockey League.
“Being around adults made me grow as a person more. Also in battles to see how those guys prepare,” Peterka said.
One of the veteran players that was on EHC Red Bull München with Peterka was former Sabres forward Derek Roy. Roy played 549 of his 738 NHL games in Buffalo. Peterka used him as a great resource to help his game.
“I learned a lot from him, like how he prepared and after games he did some work to get his body feeling good," Peterka explained. "I was [also] practicing some things with him, so it was really good to have a guy like him there.”
Peterka is excited for his future with the Sabres, because Roy told him that it was a good city and the fans are unbelievable.
After players are drafted, it’s time for the development staff to take over. They talk to players throughout their seasons, and Peterka said there were things the Sabres wanted him to work on after he was drafted.
“It was my playmaking and my defensive game, and I worked every time after practice in Munich on it. So I think I took a big step there,” he said.
The National Hockey League had its yearly event with players around the league in Toronto this week. John Wawrow of the Associated Press said that Ottawa Senators highly regarded prospect Tim Stützle said Peterka is one of his nation’s top young stars. Stützle was the third overall pick of the Senators in 2020.
In Wednesday’s practice, defenseman Oskari Laaksonen was shaken up, but he did return and finished the practice. Jack Quinn also returned after having a few teeth chipped on Wednesday.
You can hear both games of the Sabres Prospects Challenge this Friday night and Saturday on WGR Sports Radio 550. I’ll be joined by Brian Koziol and Brayton Wilson starting at 7 p.m. ET on Friday against the New Jersey Devils. Before we bring you the game on Saturday against the Boston Bruins, we’ll have a one hour roundtable show starting at 2 p.m. ET.