J-J Peterka has been playing against men for more than a year. ©2020, Red Bull Munich

Prospect J-J Peterka thrilled Sabres traded up to draft him

As the NHL Draft progressed Tuesday night, J-J Peterka started getting a little upset. The German forward many had pegged as a first-round selection kept waiting to be picked.

Two of his fellow countrymen – forwards Tim Stutzle (third overall, Ottawa Senators) and Lukas Reichel (17th, Chicago Blackhawks) – went off the board early.

When the first round ended, Peterka, 18, was still available. Meanwhile, rookie general manager Kevyn Adams was trying to move up so he could snatch Peterka, a prospect the Buffalo Sabres had ranked higher.

Adams said he had trouble sleeping because he was trying to figure out a way to get Peterka.

Shortly after the second round started Wednesday, the Sabres traded the 38th and 100th picks to the San Jose Sharks so they could draft Peterka 34th overall.

“I would say it’s a pretty good feeling that they show that trust in you and they really want you,” Peterka said on a Zoom call. “So I’m really, really excited, and I’m really happy for this and the opportunity I get from the Buffalo Sabres.”

The 5-foot-11, 192-pound Peterka spent last season playing against men for Red Bull Munich in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL), scoring seven goals and 11 points in 42 games in Germany’s top pro circuit. He also scored four goals and six points in seven outings for Team Germany at the World Junior Championship.

Peterka ranked seventh among draft-eligible European skaters by NHL Central Scouting.

“I’m a creative, offensive player who likes to make plays and also score goals, like kind of both playmaker and scorer,” Peterka said on a Zoom call this afternoon. “I think from my first pro season I got a lot of experience. especially defensive zone and also battles and playing against older men. I think I learned a lot in that season.”

Adams said: “We felt very strongly that J-J is … the type of player that we’re looking to put and build in this organization. High compete, high pace, real good athlete, good skater.”

Peterka moved to Salzburg EC in the Austrian League this season. So far, he has scored two goals and three points in two outings.

Competing against men as a teenager has helped Peterka develop an aggressive style.

“I experienced how to get to the net with men,” he said.

He added: “It’s a big part of my game.”

Peterka has some connections to the Sabres. He said he skates with winger Dominik Kahun, who joined Buffalo late last season, during the summer. Kahun played for Red Bull before coming to the NHL.

“Practicing with him, he’s a really good guy,” Peterka said. “So I’m really looking forward to that.”

Peterka also spent last season as teammates in Munich with former Sabres center Derek Roy, who played eight seasons in Buffalo.

“Playing with him was unbelievable, I would say,” Peterka said. “He is such a great player with such good patience on the puck and makes such good plays.”

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