Flying well below the Hughes-Kakko discussions in recent months is the fact the first round of this year’s NHL Draft is so heavily populated with WHL and U.S. National Development players. Where are all the OHL players, some people must be asking? Well, after spending significant time looking at prospects on Team USA over the past week or so, we’re now once again back in the WHL. Sorry.
Peyton Krebs may have had his junior hockey season come to an end around mid-March, but that didn’t stop him from playing competitive hockey for quite some time — continuing to give scouts more opportunities to evaluate and talk about him — when he represented Canada at the recent U-18 World Championship.
Said to be a solid, two-way player who displays good skills, Krebs is very competitive and does a lot of the details really well (i.e. can win draws, play defense, etc.). He projects as a center in the NHL; unlike many of the more elite centers in this class who might actually be converted to wingers at the pro level. Krebs is one of those character guys who helps good teams win. Where he lands in round one remains open for much speculation.
As mentioned in previous articles, and briefly discussed here, one potential strategy available to the Kings could be to slide down a few spots from their current No. 5 position. Certainly there is a lot of fluidity in this draft class after the top two selections, and while our reports in this series are done in no particular order, there is an ‘intangible’ theme which permeates through this profile unlike other players we’ve discussed thus far.
Date of Birth: January 26, 2001
Weight: 181 lbs
Position: Center/Left Wing
Krebs spent his entire 2018-19 WHL season with the Kootenay Ice, where he led his team in scoring with 68 points (19 G, 49 A) in 62 games – the next highest scorer was a clear 16 points behind him. He also posted five points (2 G, 3 A) in five games while helping Canada win gold at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
Leading On And Off The Ice
This wasn’t just a story of standing out on the scoresheet during Ice games, Krebs also wore the ‘C’ as captain. He bore the same responsibility for Team Canada in the U-18 World Championship, captaining the team while also topping the score sheet with 10 points (6 G, 4 A) in seven games.
Kootenay was the second worst team in the WHL, posting a record of just 13-45-7-3, and the team only managed 181 goals for. His 68 points means he was a part of 38% of the team’s offense; the next highest scorer on his team had a hand in only 29%. The third highest contributor provided 23%. Krebs was clearly the engine of his squad.
Krebs only missed four games for Kootenay. In his absence, the team was 0-3-1-0, scoring eight goals (2.0 G/Game) and allowing 22 (5.5 G/Game).
All In The Family
Krebs has an older brother, Dakota, who also played against him in the WHL. Meanwhile, his sister, Maddison, is a country music singer who sang both national anthems in the first tilt between the brothers. The younger brother, Dru, was drafted by the Medicine Hat Tigers but he has not donned a jersey for them just yet.
Home Not So Sweet Home
While also captaining one of the worst teams in the WHL, a role given to him in December, Krebs was also facing the adversity of having to deal with whispers of Kootenay no longer serving as the home for the Ice. The rumor became a reality on January 29, when the WHL announced the team will relocate to Winnipeg in time for the 2019-20 season.
You Have To Be Kootenay!
Some familiar and not so familiar members of the Kings organization used to play for Kootenay. Adam Cracknell, Brayden McNabb, Jarret Stoll, and Brett Sutter – though Sutter never played for the Kings, he has been a mainstay and captain of the Ontario Reign for several seasons.
Stoll also had a chance to talk to the Kootenay Ice team on March 2nd during a special ceremony, as he became the first player inducted into the Kootenay Hall of Fame – with Kootenay relocating, he may also become the only player to receive such an honor.
Rankings by Independent Scouting Services
- 9th by The Draft Analyst, who wrote, “Kootenay’s Peyton Krebs gives off a Bo Horvat kind of vibe thanks to his leadership, vision and ability to carry a thin roster”
- 8th by International Scouting Services, whose note in their rankings state: “Peyton Krebs brings leadership and consistency to the ice for Canada’s U18 Team. His two-way game and competitiveness are his strengths. Peyton’s playmaking and read/react abilities are both outstanding; he’s reliable and efficient and knows how to create offensive chances for himself as well as his teammates.”
- 5th by Future Considerations – incidentally, he was the top ranked WHL forward over highly regarded prospects Kirby Dach and Dylan Cozens
See For Yourself
Here’s a highlight reel of Krebs’ season, which shows a combination of his creativity, determination, and pure skill:
There’s a common theme which research keeps revealing when looking into Krebs – leadership. While captaining struggling teams, one of which had to deal with everyone relocating, Krebs kept setting the example on and off the ice. Different hockey circles identify this intangible, while he consistently remains at the top of his teams’ scoresheet. He maintains this responsibility while playing in all situations. Krebs is a proverbial bus driver for a team needing an identity.
Sam Cosentino of SportsNet provided a very telling quote which is why some teams may have fits in ranking Krebs: “How do you scout a really good player on a mediocre team?”
NOTE: David Hofreiter was the lead contributor in the gathering of information used in this article. You can find him on Twitter @Davidenkness to talk more hockey.
2019 NHL Draft Preview: Kirby Dach, WHL Center
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