2018-19 Team: Kootenay ICE (#19)
Date of Birth: January 26, 2001
Place of Birth: Okotoks, Alberta
Ht: 5-foot-11 Wt: 181 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2019 first-year eligible
- The Hockey Writers (Pike’s Picks): 7th (final)
- Future Considerations: 5th (Spring)
- ISS: 10th (April)
- Bob McKenzie: 12th (April; draft lottery update)
- Craig Button: 17th (March)
No disrespect to the franchise – which relocated to Winnipeg following the 2018-19 Western Hockey League season – but it was always a bit of a shame that Peyton Krebs ended up with the Kootenay ICE. The first overall selection in the 2016 Bantam Draft left Cranbrook having played zero playoff games and was the team’s best player (by a big margin) for his entire run.
For two seasons, Krebs has been a productive WHL forward. Equal parts fast, intelligent and creative on the ice, he’s been one of the most consistent players in the circuit in terms of generating scoring chances and setting up his linemates for opportunities. He hasn’t had the quality of linemates that his fellow 2019 NHL Draft prospects have – both Kirby Dach (of the Saskatoon Blades) and Dylan Cozens (of the Lethbridge Hurricanes) have had more to work with. Krebs had a hand in 37.5% of ICE goals in 2018-19 and had 15 more points than the next-best player on his team.
That said, Krebs hasn’t let the challenges of playing on a non-playoff club get him down. He plays a ton in every game situation and has visibly grown in confidence despite the ICE’s scoreboard and standings results. In situations where Krebs does get to play with high-end talent – such as the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, Under-18 Worlds or Top Prospects Game – he shines; he was a revelation at the Top Prospects Game in Red Deer and had the confidence to attempt showy passes to spring his teammates for scoring chances.
Related: Our Free NHL Draft Guide
Teams will be tempted to select Krebs for two reasons: his intangibles and his potential. He’s a player that has dealt with adversity in major junior – after being a high-end player on high-end teams in bantam and midget – yet hasn’t let it get him down. In terms of potential, the ICE’s move to Winnipeg coincides with the continued maturation of 2017 first round bantam pick Connor McClennon and 2018 first round bantam pick Carson Lambos. If some of their young prospects can take a leap, Krebs may finally have the backup he’s sought since he arrived in the WHL.
Krebs doesn’t have the showy offensive stat lines that the other top forward prospects do in the 2019 NHL Draft class. He played for a team that didn’t win very often and so he’s arguably a bit of a project. But his results with very little sheltering and not a ton of backup have been really encouraging, suggesting that he could break out in a big way as he (and his team) matures.
Peyton Krebs – NHL Draft Projection
The consensus among the scouting community is Krebs resides just a smidge outside the high-end group of the 2019 NHL Draft’s first round. He seems likely to be selected somewhere between 10th and 15th overall, depending on how much NHL clubs fall in love with his potential.
“Krebs has played both wing and centre at the junior level. With his skating ability, vision, playmaking and defensive ability, he projects well as a centre going to the pro level. The question will be about his strength. Can he add enough muscle to his frame to be able to be effective down low in both ends of the ice?” – Ben Kerr, Last Word on Sports
“Krebs is more of a pass-first center, but he has very good hands and proved to be reliable as a shooter off the pass. His wrist shot is hard and accurate, and bad-angle shots get kicked into the low slot with regularity. He is excellent during cycles and board play, and he’s capable of engineering trick or set plays off faceoffs or corner battles. Krebs can handle physical play from bigger opponents and finishes his own checks with authority. His leadership traits and on-ice persona should make him a candidate to one day be named any team’s captain.” – Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst
- Great hockey sense, particularly finding gaps in coverage.
- Strong passer, can find open teammates on either side of the ice readily.
- Strong skater, particularly closing gaps while back-checking and creating gaps against defenders.
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Not particularly big or mean. He’ll need to bulk up to withstand pro physicality.
- Needs to develop a stronger shooting mentality.
- Needs to keep improving his face-offs.
Other 2019 NHL Draft Profiles
If he can keep developing, Krebs projects as a top six centre that can play all situations. The ideal situation for him, though, may be as a second line pivot (as having a stronger player ahead of him will give him a bit of breathing room). Stylistically, he resembles Matt Duchene.
Risk – 1/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense 8.5/10, Defense 8/10
Krebs represented Canada at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, the Hlinka Gretzky Cup and the Under-18 World Championship – capturing gold at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
He led the WHL in rookie scoring in the 2017-18 season.
Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames and the NHL Draft extensively since 2010 as a Senior Writer for The Hockey Writers and Senior Contributing Editor of FlamesNation.ca. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, he lives in Calgary.