The Buffalo Sabres have inked another one of their prospects, signing J-J Peterka to a three-year entry-level contract. The young forward split this season between the German and Austrian leagues, while also starring for Germany at the World Juniors.
Peterka, 19, was the 34th overall pick last year and certainly disappoint in his first post-draft season. The German forward scored 20 points in 30 games for Munich of the DEL, 16 points in 12 games for Salzburg in the Austrian league, and added ten points in five games for his country at the World Juniors. In September of last year, before that strong season, this is what Scott Wheeler of The Athletic had to say about the newest Sabres prospect:
Peterka’s one of those players that just screams “complementary third-line forward.” Early on this season, he was one of my favourite prospects in the draft for his ability to play with strength and pace all over the ice. He’s a middle-lane driver who shoots a lot and works to get to the front of the net to finish off plays. He’s just naturally athletic and it fits well with his up-tempo, north-south game. As the season progressed, though, he never really showed me he had the tools to be more than that. There are times when I want to see him slow down, or he needs to survey the ice and use his teammates better. His play, role and minutes all went cold late in the season. It can look like he’s playing on instinct out there. That works for some players. It works for J.J. too but it may limit his upside.
The idea of a complementary third-line player may not be very exciting for Sabres fans dying for some success, but this Peterka is exactly the kind of player that the team needs in order to build out the program. Without real tangible depth pieces behind star-level talent like Dylan Cozens, the team is always going to have a difficult time competing for the playoffs. That was the issue for several years behind Jack Eichel, as the Buffalo captain appeared to have to do everything himself.
If Paterka can become that third line, net-driving secondary scoring piece, he’ll be worth his high draft pick. That will still require some development though, and there is plenty of time. His three-year entry-level contract can still slide should he spend next season in Europe, or anywhere not in the Sabres lineup.