Four wins in their first six games while also holding the distinction of being the NHL’s youngest team. That is what it means to be the Buffalo Sabres at the moment.
A number of items have brought the Sabres to this point in the opening weeks of the season. One of them is the trust coach Don Granato continues to show with his young players. Rookie forward JJ Peterka and rookie defenseman Owen Power are examples.
Peterka has used his brief time with the Sabres to show he could potentially be counted upon as a secondary scoring option. His four points are tied for fourth among rookies, and he is doing it while averaging more than 12 minutes per game.
“I think getting the trust from the coaches is something that comes through work ethic,” Peterka said. “If you bring that every day into practices and into games, you can earn [trust]. But you also have to prove yourself if he puts you out there.”
Then there’s Power, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft and projects to become a two-way defenseman with size who can be used in every situation. Power leads all rookies with 22 minutes, 44 seconds in average ice time and is one of only three rookies to average more than 20 minutes this season.
“It gives me the confidence to go out and play and not really worry about anything,” Power said of the trust that Granato has shown. “Playing those minutes has really helped me a lot and has made the adjustment a little easier.”
Peterka and Power are part of an impressive rookie class that has found ways to make an immediate impact. So where do Peterka and Power rank among their peers?