The Buffalo Sabres could have an upstart winger on the verge of a breakout for the 2023-24 season, per The Athletic’s Harman Dayal.
In an earlier piece, we cited Harman Dayal of The Athletic projecting Buffalo Sabres defenseman Connor Clifton as a top breakout player in the NHL. But Dayal wasn’t finished quite yet, as they also listed JJ Peterka as a second candidate for the Blue and Gold.
Last season, Peterka had his moments, and he finished the year with 77 games played for 12 goals, and 32 points. This year, he will be looking to shoulder some serious responsibility at winger thanks to the absence of linemate Jack Quinn, who most likely won’t return until January 2024 at the earliest. Dayal also made quite a few solid observations involving Peterka, including one mind-boggling stat:
"“Peterka had a solid rookie campaign, contributing 32 points in 77 games, and 27 of those 32 points came at five-on-five, which is an encouraging trend. Peterka’s speed made him a constant threat off the rush. He has the high-end puck skills and sharp passing ability to make difficult plays in high traffic.” – via The Athletic"
Buffalo Sabres winger has an opportunity to step up with linemate out
If Peterka’s performance at the 2023 IIHF Worlds serves as a foreshadowing, then we can expect a huge jump from him this year. Earlier in the year, back in May, really, I discussed this, along with the rapport he built with Dylan Cozens and Jack Quinn, as another pair of reasons why Peterka could breakout.
Unfortunately, the piece linked above came about a month before Quinn’s injury. But with Quinn missing time along with the likelihood that we will see either Victor Olofsson or even a prospect called up to fill in for the second-year winger, it gives Peterka an opportunity to create quick chemistry with a new linemate, take charge, and produce.
If Quinn were healthy all season, I would say there is no doubt that both he and Peterka would, at the absolute least, make solid jumps this season. With Quinn missing at least two-and-a-half months of the regular season and perhaps more, it’s not as clear-cut that Peterka will breakout. However, the opportunity is there, and if the winger takes charge, he will at least put up a fine outing this year.
(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference)