You’ve heard the narrative countless times before. It’s a player’s draft year and everything is going as planned. He’s leading his team in scoring and all signs are pointing towards being taken early on in the first round. Of course, obstacles occur throughout the year, but the player escapes the season without facing anything detrimental.
As the draft draws near, it becomes clearer that a lot of teams have this player on their radar. Then, he suffers a brutal injury that jeopardizes everything. Just like that, what once seemed like a guaranteed successful hockey career becomes a little murkier.
As mentioned before, this type of story is typical in not just hockey but every story. Although these tales usually begin similarly, how they end varies. Of course, for some, they can never pick themselves back up and their once-bright future becomes dust in the wind. However, the inverse can also occur. For the Vegas Golden Knights and one of their top prospects, they are hoping that this story comes with a happy ending.
Peyton Krebs Meets Obstacle Before Draft
In his draft-eligible season with the Kootenay Ice, Peyton Krebs proved to be a strong voice and leader on a team struggling to produce anything positive in the WHL. He established himself as a hard-working forward that gave it his all every time he took the ice, regardless of the score. When the final season for the Ice in Kootenay came to an end, Krebs led the team in points with 68. Additionally, the captain’s 49 assists were by far the most of any Kootenay player.
Krebs’ work ethic, leadership qualities, and production placed him in good standing with a lot of scouts throughout hockey. In their final rankings before the draft, NHL Central Scouting ranked Krebs 10th among North American skaters and many expected him to be taken just outside the top-10.
Unfortunately, something threw a wrench into his draft stock. About two weeks before the 2019 NHL Entry Draft got underway, Krebs partially tore his Achilles while training. Of course, injuries heal; however, prospective suitors now had a reason to be cautious. Many people around the league expected Krebs’ stock to fall but nobody was certain how far he would plummet. In the end, it was not too much of a drop, as Vegas decided to use the 17th-overall pick on the Calgary, AB native.
Bouncing Back Strong
While recovering from his injury, Krebs missed the beginning portion of the Ice’s first season in Winnipeg. By mid-November, however, he was ready to get back into the swing of things and start playing again. Ironically, Krebs’ return to the ice was delayed one more game due to a suspension he received the season prior, but once he began playing again, he never looked back.
Finding scoring opportunities for teammates has always been Krebs’ biggest strength offensively. He wasted no time getting back to those ways, registering at least one assist a game in five of his first seven games of the season. Even though he’s played around 20 fewer games than most of his teammates, Krebs already ranks second on the team in assists with 32. Additionally, his 41 points through 27 contests are already good enough for fifth-most on the team.
As opposed to last season, the Ice are in a much better place regarding the standings. Winnipeg finds themselves in the thick of the playoff picture and will rely on Krebs to not only impact the team through his production but his leadership as well.
What Does it Mean for Vegas?
It may sound a bit dramatic but the Golden Knights took a bit of a gamble selecting Krebs when they did in the draft. Based on just skill, he probably could have gone earlier, but his Achilles injury was a legitimate cause for concern. Regardless, it looks like the organization is in the clear in terms of the injury impeding Krebs’ development.
Luckily, Vegas is in a position where there is no need to rush its top-end prospect. Although Krebs is having a fantastic season after recovering from a scary injury, playing another year in Winnipeg will only help his long-term development. After a final year in the WHL, it is very possible that Krebs could make the jump directly to the NHL for the 2021-22 season. Vegas is a little thin in terms of difference-makers at the center-ice position. With a little more seasoning, Krebs is a player that might be able to make an immediate impact and help fill that void.
You never know what’s going to happen to a player after they suffer a serious injury, especially so early on in their hockey career. Fortunately for the Golden Knights, it appears that Krebs’ injury was just a minor setback. Now, the promising prospect is back on track.
John Gove is an elementary school educator who writes about hockey in his spare team. Over the past five years, John has covered the game at various levels. Now, he exclusively focuses his coverage on prospects and the developmental leagues.