As a Buffalo Sabres fan, it is nice to see some immediate return on the Jack Eichel trade. Since his call up from Rochester, forward Peyton Krebs has been playing with a confidence of a seasoned pro, and boy, is it refreshing to see how high his ceiling can be on this team. Making the turn from the American Hockey League (AHL) to the NHL can be a tough transition, but Krebs has taken the challenge in stride and ran with it right up to the Sabres’ top six.
Krebs was always hailed as a smart player, even his draft year. His draft position at 17 does not speak to his natural abilities, but more so to the fact that he did not play for a particularly good junior team. His raw talent was put on display, however, at the World Junior Championship (WJC), as well as in the AHL once he turned pro. In 14 games at the World Juniors, he notched 18 points, including nine goals, and in the AHL he recorded 24 points on five goals and 19 assists in 23 games. Being over a point per game in any league is impressive for a young player, but Krebs has adjusted to the pro game seamlessly, and is using his natural talent very well.
Krebs is known as an intelligent pass-oriented player. His playmaking ability is what stands out above everything else as his best quality, with his hockey sense or his skating following close as a second. Throughout the course of his hockey development, he has shown the innate ability to make plays out of nothing, and to thread passes through places that even the best NHLers would be impressed with. This happened recently when Krebs fed fellow former Golden Knight Alex Tuch for an amazing tap in goal.
The vision he has for passes will only improve with time and more developed confidence, and it is exciting to know that this connection with Tuch may last for years to come.
Chemistry With Teammates
Krebs is no stranger to Tuch or Dylan Cozens. Tuch obviously was his teammate in Vegas, but Cozens was his teammate for Team Canada at the World Juniors. In those tournaments, they played a considerable amount of time together and fed off one another’s talents very well for multiple goals each. While Krebs has gotten more playing time with Tuch on the Sabres roster due to his natural center position, head coach Don Granato may have some lightning in a bottle saved up if he can put the two young forwards together on a line.
Most call-ups for the Sabres get ample opportunity to prove they deserve the ice time they are being handed, but Krebs is on a different level. He has worked his way to the top six and is finding chemistry with his regular linemates (including Casey Mittelstadt prior to his injury being aggravated) while also manning the top power-play unit. He has been given the responsibility of setting up plays from the sideboards when Rasmus Dahlin isn’t controlling play from the point, and it looks effortless to him.
As he continues to grow in his confidence level, and as he learns how each of his teammates plays, his point production will only increase from there.
Maximizing His Confidence
As each game passes, Krebs is more noticeably confident with the puck. He’s not being shy in the slightest by taking the puck up ice by himself, or by drawing defenders towards him in the offensive zone and challenging them so he can make the play move elsewhere. He already has the speed and the hands to create plays, now the challenge becomes finishing them himself, or finding him a finisher to consistently make his plays worth so much more on the scoresheet.
Having Krebs play with the likes of Mittelstadt when he returns would be a great way to boost each of them to higher scoring numbers. While Mittelstadt is away, however, Krebs may be best suited centring a line with two scoring wingers. It would be an ample opportunity for the Sabres to break Victor Olofsson out of his slump, if he and Krebs were lined up together. A playmaker and a sniper both using their natural abilities and feeding off each other would make the top six of the Buffalo offense more dangerous. On the other side of the wing, having Dylan Cozens there would make the most sense. The two have a great history together, and Cozens’ style of play would mix well to be both a catalyst for the line and a finisher.
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While there is always room for improvement, Krebs is flying high right now with his confidence. It is up to the Sabres coaching staff now to recognize his abilities and maximize them as soon as possible. The more he scores points, the more he will develop positively for next season. That is until he takes over the vacant mantle of a true #1 center on the Sabres roster.
I have been a hockey and Buffalo Sabres fan since I was in middle school. Through the good times and the very long bad times, I have stuck by this team with the hope that one day we would become a powerhouse in the NHL. Now I join The Hockey Writers as I hope to talk about this Buffalo Sabres team on an upswing. I love this team with all my heart, and I take pride in my ability to know players, prospects, and so much more. As a hockey fan I have a particular taste for young players and prospects; doing mock drafts, looking up stats, guessing potential, doing player comparisons, all of it. The idea of the future skill in the NHL is one of my favorite things to think about, write about, and talk about. I am also an avid NHL gamer with a top ranked team in the “Threes Eliminator” mode.