BUFFALO – Sabres prospect JJ Peterka was grocery shopping with Linus Weissbach on Monday in Rochester when his teammate’s phone rang.
Peterka’s phone wasn’t working, so to relay some special news, Rochester Americans coach Seth Appert called Weissbach, one of the German’s roommates.
“That was kind of weird but then I got the phone and Appert told me I got called up, so it was amazing,” said a smiling Peterka, who was officially recalled this morning with centers Peyton Krebs and Arttu Ruotsalainen.
When Peterka, 19, returned home – he needed WiFi to use his phone – he immediately called his parents, who are vacationing in New York.
His parents plan to be in Buffalo to watch his NHL debut Wednesday against the New Jersey Devils.
“It was great timing, I guess,” said Peterka, a winger the Sabres drafted 34th overall in 2020.
When Peterka walked into KeyBank Center this morning, assistant coach Matt Ellis said the youngster’s mask couldn’t hide his smile.
“His cheeks flared out,” Ellis said following this morning’s practice. “Just enthusiasm, from the second both those guys arrived today.”
Krebs, 20, is another top-end prospect who will likely be a huge part of any success the Sabres enjoy in the future.
Since arriving Nov. 4 from the Vegas Golden Knights in the Jack Eichel trade, he has played 16 games with the Amerks. He played 13 contests with the Vegas Golden Knights over the past two seasons.
“Fresh start for me with a new organization,” Krebs said. “I think definitely feels a little bit like the first game. At the same time, I definitely have an outlook on what it’s going to be like on the ice. It’s exciting.”
It was expected Krebs and Peterka would make it to Buffalo, if not this season then next one. But the Sabres’ COVID-19 problems – they have five forwards in the NHL’s protocol – forced them to recall the prospects now.
“They’re both great hockey players in their own right, they both bring different things to the table, and they’re big pieces to what we’re trying to do moving forward,” Ellis said. “So to get them in and get a live look, we’ve certainly been watching a lot on video. I mean, even as a coaching group, we’re pretty dialed in to what’s gone on in Rochester and how those guys are playing, so we’ve seen them via video quite a bit.
“But to have them here in house and see them live on the ice up close, JJ we had the opportunity in camp. But with Peyton, it’s our first look. So it’s pretty cool to have them in mix and look forward to building off today into tomorrow.”