John-Jason Peterka – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

The Hockey Writers 2020 NHL Entry Draft Guide

John-Jason Peterka

2019-20 Team: EHC Red Bull Munich
Date of Birth: January 24, 2002
Place of Birth: Munich, Germany
Ht: 5-foot-11 Wt: 192 lbs
Shoots: Left
Position: Left Wing
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2020 first-year eligible

Rankings

Coming into the 2019-20 season, John-Jason Peterka was regarded as a B-grade prospect by the NHL Central Scouting, projected as a second or third-round pick. There was no question he had impressive skills – in 48 games with EHC Red Bull Munich’s development team in Salzburg in 2018-19, he had 45 goals and 94 points, leading the league in both categories. He was also instrumental in the German’s gold medal at the 2019 U18 World Juniors, earning the nation a promotion to the top division for the next tournament. But there were concerns that he was a bit undersized and hadn’t faced top competition yet, as he played in a fairly obscure Czech U19 league.

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Almost all of that was put to rest at the 2020 U20 World Juniors. Together with fellow draft prospects Tim Stützle and Lukas Reichel, Germany stunned the hockey world by defeating the Czech Republic and going toe-to-toe with both the Americans and Canadians in the preliminary round. It was the dynamic Stützle that stole the show, but it was Peterka who led the German draft-eligible players with four goals and six points while also sitting second in team scoring and tied for first in penalty minutes with 16.

John Jason Peterka EHC Muenchen
EHC Red Bull Muenchen’s John Jason Peterka (GEPA pictures/ City-Press)

Suddenly, Peterka went from a solid second-round pick to a potential first-rounder in an incredibly deep draft, forcing scouts to take notice of him in the less-scouted Deutsche Eishockey Liga (German Ice Hockey League, or DEL). He joined the league at 17 years old and instantly established himself as one of the fastest skaters on the ice, despite being one of the youngest. His quick acceleration can catch defenders off guard and create space for excellent goal-scoring opportunities. He also can quickly transition back to defense without missing a beat. He is always on the move, never letting defenders rest, and can often force bigger, older opponents to take penalties while trying to slow him down.

On top of blazing speed, Peterka also possesses above-average hockey sense and intensity. He owns a patience unexpected for someone who plays at such a high speed, and he’s become incredibly dangerous on the Red Bull’s power play. His defensive game is not as refined as his offensive instincts, but he still shows no fear and is not afraid to get into high-danger situations despite his smaller stature. He’s a very intense player and doesn’t shy away from physicality. Of the draft-eligible German trio, Peterka has the most penalty minutes in the DEL this season with 14.

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But what still stands out most is his amazing hands. While he has slowed down a bit after his incredible start, adding only four goals and four assists in 36 games since, his totals are one of the best for an U18 player in the DEL. In the past two decades, only three players have produced more points. Of course, two of those three are Stützle and Reichel, who have scored 34 and 24 points in their first DEL seasons, respectively. However, keep in mind that Peterka has done all this in a limited role with the Red Bulls. At an average of 11:50 a game, he’s played over four minutes less than Stützle, who has the same number of even-strength and power-play goals as him.

While Peterka has all the tools to be a great offensive threat at the highest level, he’s had difficulty finding consistency shift-to-shift and game-to-game. He’ll have flashes of incredible skill one minute, yet follow it by great lapses and mistakes. Part of that could be attributed to making the jump right from the junior circuit to the DEL at 17 years old, which may have amplified some bad habits he picked up. They weren’t as noticeable at the World Juniors, where his competition was only a year or two older than him, but they have been more apparent when faced against seasoned veterans.

Adding to his inconsistency issues is the rawness of his overall game. His speed is excellent in a straight line, but Peterka has had difficulty moving laterally, limiting his offensive potential. He also has a tendency to shoot quickly and from tight angles, halting a play before it has time to develop. While his incredible hands have covered for him in this area at times, it could cause problems for him later in his career if not worked out when he’s young.

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John-Jason Peterka – NHL Draft Projection

Peterka’s strong performance at the World Junior tournament and a strong start in the DEL has made him a fringe first-round selection. However, there is still some disagreement as to where he will land, with some rankings placing him solidly in the second round while others expect him to be a mid first-round pick. It’s most likely that he falls in the 25 to 31 range, but could sneak up higher if a team with multiple picks is looking to take on a bit of a risk. If he’s left until the second round, don’t expect him to be there long, much like Arthur Kaliyev and Bobby Brink in 2019.

Quotables

“German off-handed right wing who was viewed as a scorer – playmaker who has slowly developed a defensive game. Has quick hands and his stocky build does well for him in tight spaces.  His agility is good but needs to quicker up ice and refine his shooting angles. Plays on the penalty kill.” Bill Placzek, Draft Site

“Peterka’s value comes from his great skating ability which is noticeably good even at the men’s level. He has both great speed and quickness, and he is a very fluid skater. He uses his speed effectively to force opponents to take penalties. Peterka also has good skills, especially his puck-handling skills and passing skills which are both very good. He has great patience with the puck, most noticeably on the power play where he shines. Peterka’s hockey sense is good but not great. His all-around game is still very raw, even though he is on the older side for his draft class. Shift-to-shift and game-to-game consistency is also a bit of a concern.” Jokke Nevalainen, Dobber Prospects

“Goal scorer that doesn’t need a lot of time or space to find the back of the net. Competes hard shift in, shift out and isn’t afraid to go to the dirty areas. He has all the tools to be very productive at the next level.” ISS Hockey

Strengths

  • Hockey Sense
  • Skating
  • Puck Control
  • Shot

Under Construction (Improvements to Make)

  • Consistency
  • Fundamentally raw
  • Long-term prospect

NHL Potential

Anyone selecting Peterka will have to wait some time before he’s ready to take on the NHL. The talent is there, and he’s already made improvements to his defensive game, but he’ll need to work on becoming more consistent. That will likely mean he won’t break into the NHL for another four or five years, spending some more time with the DEL and a season or two in the AHL. However, if he’s selected by a patient team, he projects to be a top-six scoring winger who can be utilized on both the power play and penalty kill.

Risk-Reward Analysis

Risk – 3/5, Reward – 3.5/5

Fantasy Hockey Potential

Offense – 7.5/10, Defense – 6.5/10

Awards/Achievements

As a 16-year-old, Peterka led his U18 league in points, assists and plus/minus, helping them win the 2017-18 Erste Bank Junior League Championship. He’s played for Germany several times internationally, appearing on the U16 team in 2017-18 and both the U18 and U20 teams in 2018-19. He also played on the U18 World Junior team in 2019-20, where he won a gold medal, and represented his country at the U20 World Juniors in 2019-20 that staved off relegation. The OHL’s Barrie Colts selected him in the second round of the 2019 Import Draft, but he has so far given no intention of joining the team.

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