In my recent roster projection, I noted that Jacob Peterson is an interesting player to watch. With his high upside and offensive potential, I believed he would have the edge over players like Joel Kiviranta. Two days before opening night, however, Peterson looks to be the odd man out in the forward group. The reason: his performance in camp was below the expectations of the coaching staff.
“I think he had a real average camp,” Head Coach Pete DeBoer said. “I liked what I saw in Game 7 against Calgary, I thought he gave some spark. I thought he had an average camp and he admitted that.”
For Peterson, his role is still largely unknown. He had a successful first season after learning to play on the smaller North American ice and faced higher expectations coming into this season. Those expectations matched the goals he set for himself this summer. It all seems to boil down to one thing: consistency.
“Being able to play every night is the first step for me,” Peterson said. “Playing a lot, playing more than those minutes I had last year, I didn’t play a lot every game so I want to play more consistent during the season.”
“I want to play as much as possible, I want to help the team as much as I can, I want to score goals,” he added. “Create offensively and be reliable defensively too to play in both ends, then the coaches can trust me. Feeling okay so far, I have more to give but I am feeling good.”
Peterson finished last season with 12 goals and 17 points while playing just over 11 minutes per game (65 games). He showed that he is able to put himself in good spots on the ice and had immediate chemistry with elite passer Alexander Radulov. Now with a bit more depth up front, he will not only need to continue his production, but will also be asked to fill in different roles throughout the season.
“What did he score 12 goals last year on a team that needs goals? That’s the first thing that jumps out,” DeBoer said. “We need goals. He has a knack for getting in those spots and sticking it in the net, or at least he did it for a year. He’s got to do that again. And then add other layers to your game; some energy, some PK if you’re not on the power play, whatever that is.”
One common theme surrounding Peterson is that he and his coaches know that he has more to give. Fans saw flashes of it in 2021-22 and the ceiling seems to be far higher than his current level of play. The 23-year-old is aware of where he stands and spoke with DeBoer earlier Tuesday about exactly what they need to see from him. Now he needs to show it on the ice, whenever he gets his chance.
“He’s got to find a way to be effective and get those scoring looks on a consistent basis,” DeBoer said. “No one in camp didn’t have opportunity, to play with good players, play on the power play, to show what they could do. He feels he has more to show us. He’s going to get that chance, we are only carrying 13 forwards.”