The 2020 NHL Draft is scheduled for October 6 and 7, conducted remotely. The Calgary Flames have a first round selection and will pick 19th overall. In advance of the draft, we’ll be looking at some contenders to be selected at 19th.
This year is heavy on Germans. Tim Stützle looks like the country’s best prospect since Leon Draisaitl and Lukas Reichel has the skill and smarts to be a good first-round pick, right in the Flames’ wheelhouse. Finishing off the trifecta of top German prospects for this year’s draft is John-Jason “J.J.” Peterka, a stocky left-winger who made some waves this year on a dominant DEL pro team.
Over at McKeen’s, scout Chapin Landvogt described Peterka in March as a player with “hands, hands, hands, and more hands.” He combines his quick feet with equally-as-fast movement from his wrists, protecting the puck while also weaving it all over. He also has a quick shot that functions equally as successfully as a wrister or as a one-timer. He’s particularly skilled at shooting for rebounds.
Peterka exceeded expectations this year by being able to crack a tremendous EHC München team in Germany’s top professional league, the DEL. München entered 2019–20 having reached four consecutive league finals, winning three of them, but Peterka managed to play a regular role as one of just two teenagers on the veteran-laden roster. His 11 point, 42 game season looks underwhelming at first glance compared to the production displayed by Stützle and Reichel, but both of those players found roles much higher up in their respective lineups.
Still, Peterka managed to contribute in a depth role and hardly found his game constrained by the theoretical demands of playing on a checking line. His thick build (5’11”, 190 lbs.) allows him to maintain a low centre of gravity and win board battles in his own end, while his powerful and wide stride enables him to pull away from defenders with ease. Remember when Pavel Datsyuk played on the fourth line of the stacked 2002 Red Wings? Peterka is no Datsyuk, but that’s sort of what his situation resembled with Munich this year.
Skilled forward John-Jason Peterka (Ranked No. 74) with a nifty primary assist on a tying goal as Red Bull Munich edged Krefeld 2-1 on Sunday. He now has 3g and 3a in 13 games. The 17-year-old playmaker is expected to play…
— The Draft Analyst (@TheDraftAnalyst) October 20, 2019
Peterka is pure offense, and his agility, speed and quickness in open ice presses opponents well beyond their comfort zone at the blue line. Whether shooting or passing; static or in motion, Peterka can one of the most dangerous forwards on the ice from start to finish. He is an asset on the power play thanks to an incredible set of hands, his ability to fire pucks off the pass with accuracy, and roof bouncing pucks from in close.
His defensive game vastly improved over the second half of the season, and he was cleaner with his positioning and reads. Having a high-end motor and a strong lower body allowed him to increase the amount of successes he had in board battles, and there even were occasion [sic] when Peterka outmuscled (and outmaneuvered) bigger forwards operating near the corners of his own end.
Landvogt further raved about Peterka’s skills in his draft profile at McKeen’s (full article only for subscribers):
[Peterka] has shown flashes of brilliance when it comes to dipsy-doodling and deking out opponents while a number of his offensive passes this year have been nothing short of graceful. The way in which he heads the puck, protects it, and applies his skills to attacking should have most talent scouts envisioning much more production down the road when he has fully grown and has several years of experience under his belt. Interestingly, as a lefty shot, Peterka’s stickhandling involves a great deal of movement from his right hand while his left hand does little more than hold the stick steady. The manner in which he coddles the puck is a little reminiscent of the famous Patrick Kane stickhandling videos. In addition, the aforementioned one-timers aren’t done with that timing and accuracy without a well-developed technique.
In short, teams looking for goal-scorers in 2020’s first round have a few options. Jacob Perreault might be the best domestic option, but J.J. Peterka has experience playing against men, possesses a much more developed two-way game, and owns a similar blistering shot.
As mentioned, Peterka put up seven goals and four assists in 42 games in 2019–20 for München in the DEL. His 11 points ranked 15th on the team behind, among others, past Flames signees Yasin Ehliz and Jason Jaffray. His four goals at the World Juniors this year tied him with the likes of Alexis Lafrenière, Arthur Kaliyev, and Shane Pinto for seven in the tournament.
In 2018–19, Peterka played in the Czech U-19 Extraliga with the Salzburg, Austria-based RB Hockey Akademie. He dominated the league, leading all players with 45 goals and 94 points in 48 games as a 16-year-old (albeit against limited competition).
Availability and fit
Peterka offers the Flames some intriguing attributes. His show-stopping shot and stickhandling will undoubtedly be attractive to any team picking in the late teens and early 20s. He’s familiar with professional competition and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him adapt quickly to playing against NHL foes. He also boasts the physical tools to hold his own in the NHL. But he’s also a left-handed left-winger, so he doesn’t exactly fill a need for the Flames like some of the other players projected to go around the 19th pick.
The Flames would hardly be going off-the-board by selecting J.J. Peterka with the 19th pick on October 6. McKeen’s Magazine has Peterka 17th on their final rankings. Both Sam Cosentino’s rankings over at Sportsnet and Corey Pronman’s list at The Athletic have him going 21st. Bob McKenzie has him ranked 23rd; Dobber Prospects has him slotted at 27th; he’s 29th on FC Hockey’s rankings; and, finally, Craig Button has him way down at 42nd on his final list.
2020 First Round Targets
Braden Schneider | Kaiden Guhle | Seth Jarvis | Connor Zary | Jacob Perreault | Noel Gunler | Lukas Reichel | Dylan Holloway | Hendrix Lapierre | Jan Myšák | Jake Neighbours | Mavrik Bourque | Ozzy Wiesblatt