The Vegas Golden Knights knew not to look a gift horse in the mouth, when they got to pick forward Peyton Krebs at No. 17 at the NHL Entry Draft. With the selection, they arguably got a top 10 player, at least according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie in his pre-draft rankings.
Even if there were a few caveats with the pick, Golden Knights fans needn’t worry. It’s not just a solid selection, but a relative steal based on the following reasons:
3. The Best Player on a Non-Playoff Team
One of the nonsensical knocks on Krebs was that he has failed to make the playoffs with the Kootenay Ice. Nevertheless, this past season, he tallied 16 more points than the Ice’s second-leading scorer in what ended up being a dismal season in the standings. He produced despite facing the increased defensive coverage that comes with the territory of being his team’s top (arguably only) offensive threat.
Assuming a single player can drag a 13-45-10 team into the playoffs is akin to thinking Alexander Ovechkin is inherently flawed for failing to reach the postseason during his first two seasons playing for a bad Washington Capitals team. He got there eventually. So, will Krebs as an NHL player.
Meanwhile, Jeff Skinner has never made the playoffs in the NHL in nine seasons, and now he’s effectively a $9 million player. Like Skinner’s contract or not, the Golden Knights would love it if Krebs developed into the type of player who could earn that type of money later on in his career.
Ultimately, Krebs is a player who was drafted with the first overall pick into the Western Hockey League for a reason. He didn’t disappoint in that regard. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have even been ranked as a potential first-round selection in the big-league draft.
2. Krebs Was the Best Possible Pick
Picking at No. 17, the Golden Knights essentially went with the best player left on the board. According to The Hockey Writers’ own profile on Krebs, the lowest he had been ranked heading in was at No. 17 by TSN’s Craig Button. However, even Button slotted him in six picks higher in his post-NHL Draft Lottery mock draft a few weeks later.
Not only that, but Krebs plays down the middle and on the wing. As such, he fills a need as a low-cost alternative up front, where the Golden Knights have their three highest-paid players. Potentially four, with William Karlsson still having to be signed. Facing a salary-cap crunch, the Golden Knights will have to unload contracts eventually. Krebs could slip right in, once he’s ready for the show.
1. Krebs’ Injury Should Be a Non-Issue
Granted, Krebs just tore his Achilles tendon during an on-ice training session in early June. Hence the likeliest reason he dropped from being a potential top-10 pick. Nevertheless, the outlook for Krebs’ injury is positive.
For starters, it was a partial tear. Secondly, circumstances were very different between Krebs’ torn Achilles and, say, football player Richard Sherman’s. His on-field performance was seemingly adversely affected after he came back from an injury sustained in late 2017. However, in Krebs’ case, the tendon is thought to be in better shape because of his age and how a skate tore it, presumably making a clean cut, which is ideal in this situation.
The Golden Knights and their fans need only look to Norris Memorial Trophy-winning defenseman Erik Karlsson for proof this injury isn’t the career death knell many might fear. Karlsson had his Achilles tendon lacerated in February 2013 at the age of 22. All he did was return with a vengeance, just recently signing an eight-year, $92 million deal extension with the San Jose Sharks.
While that signing has its caveats too just like the Golden Knights’ pick, any decline on Karlsson’s part is irrelevant. What should concern the Golden Knights and their fans are the six seasons in between the injury and now, during which Karlsson continued to play as one of the top offensive defenseman in the game. If Krebs manages to deliver even half the same offensive impact as a forward, the Golden Knights won’t be disappointed.
It’s easy to look at the Krebs pick and think that the Golden Knights just threw a pick away. They didn’t. They knew heading in about the injury. Teams were expected to be receiving the official medical records prior to the draft. So, it was a calculated risk, just like drafting any other player is, because you’re banking on them staying healthy from the point at which you draft them until they actually get to play for you. If this is the worst that befalls Krebs in his career, knock on wood, he and the Golden Knights are in good shape.
It isn’t that the injury makes Krebs a bad pick, but rather that the injury made him available to be picked. Even if Krebs’ injury was extremely bad luck for him personally, the Golden Knights should consider themselves lucky to now have him in the fold.