“If he hadn’t torn his Achilles, he would have gone in the top 10,” Vegas Golden Knights president of hockey operations George McPhee said.
That’s the kind of player they’re getting in Peyton Krebs, who the Golden Knights took with the 17th overall pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft on Friday.
Krebs scored 19 goals and 68 points in 64 Western Hockey League games with the Kootenay Ice this season (later moved to Winnipeg). With a better team, as many draft analysts have said, it’s likely Krebs could have scored more. He has drawn comparisons to Mathew Barzal and Ryan O’Reilly.
This is a home run pick for the Golden Knights, who were missing center depth from the prospect pool after trading Nick Suzuki for Max Pacioretty before last season. Now, with Cody Glass and Krebs, the Golden Knights have that depth again.
McKeen’s Hockey said the first thing that stands out about Krebs is his speed. “He can carry the puck with speed, he can back check with speed, he exits and enters the zone with speed, and he joins the rush with speed.”
Corey Pronman of The Athletic said that “Krebs is also a fantastic playmaker and one of the best passers in the draft.”
Krebs is a forward capable in both ends and wonderful in transition. He fell to the Golden Knights because of that partial Achilles tear he suffered on June 4 and that was visible as he made his way to the stage to meet with the Golden Knights, limping every other step, and from him getting on a scooter after being drafted.
But that’s an injury that’s able to be overcome, given time, and it won’t affect his vision or the passing ability that makes Krebs so special.
Krebs is a few years away, including some months to recover from that Achilles tear and the proceeding surgery, but Krebs should eventually make an impact on the Golden Knights’ lineup, perhaps just in time to help fill the void that will eventually be left by the departure of Paul Stastny.
The Golden Knights benefited from surprising picks before them, and Krebs is a downright steal at number 17. Krebs will look to fit in as a center for the Golden Knights in the future, and one who will face less pressure.
Glass looked more and more like a future star as he played in this year’s AHL playoffs, and should that happen, Krebs will just need to be the two in the Golden Knights’ one-two punch. It’s very much in the realm of possibility. Krebs is also a natural leader, and was the captain of his Kootenay team this season, and he was called the “heart and soul player of this draft class”.
Again, this is a phenomenal pick by the Golden Knights getting someone who is likely a top 10 talent in a position of relative need for the team.