With Jack Quinn on the mend, a few Buffalo Sabres must step up during the first half of the season. Fortunately, they have the talent.
Yesterday, I concocted a list outlining who could potentially replace Jack Quinn during his rehab. Today, I’m expanding on that and talking about three players who must step up an aspect of their game while the second-year winger is on the mend.
The players listed below aren’t bad. In fact, each should be in the Buffalo Sabres long-term plans. Given their respective roles with the team, however, they will need to bring their A-game from the time the puck drops on October 12th until New Year’s Eve.
3 Buffalo Sabres who must step up
1 – J.J. Peterka
J.J. Peterka is more than familiar with Jack Quinn, having played alongside him with the Rochester Americans and later, on the Sabres second line. Peterka showed vast improvement in 2022-23 and like Quinn, he’s expected to make a leap.
Now, there’s no room for error. John Jason Peterka must make that leap and he must become a force alongside Dylan Cozens and whoever takes up the mantle in Quinn’s place. Given his strong showing in March and April, I have no doubt Peterka can live up to the challenge.
2 – Alex Tuch
There are two qualities regarding Alex Tuch that jump out at me: Productivity and leadership. And while you have leaders on this team like Kyle Okposo and Zemgus Girgensons, many of us in the Buffalo Sabres fanbase want Alex Tuch to be the leader of tomorrow.
With a core player like Quinn going down with an injury, it’s Tuch’s time to shine and do his part in leading the team through the first of what will be many speed bumps on the road to the playoffs (let’s face it, the road to success is a rocky one). Tuch’s already shown us he’s a leader, but how will he carry the torch in facing off with such adversity?
3 – Casey Mittelstadt
Jiri Kulich was the first player to cross my mind when it came to replacing Jack Quinn, but then I thought about how well Casey Mittelstadt already played in lieu of Tage Thompson’s injury this past season. Therefore, Mittelstadt is my current projection to replace Quinn unless someone else proves they can do a better job.
While Mittelstadt already showed us once that he can step up his game in such situations, with the Buffalo Sabres and their fanbase expecting a playoff berth in 2024, he must more than build on what he did this past season. He needs to bring his A-game starting in October, not waiting until December as he did in 2022.