While we’ve covered a couple of other prospects struggling to shine through on poor teams, nobody epitomizes the notion of the diamond in the rough quite like Peyton Krebs. The Kootenay Ice were absolutely atrocious this year and, on top of that, were under constant threat of relocation (which will be happening this offseason).
Through it all, Peyton Krebs kept pace with the best draft-eligible prospects in the WHL, while adding some stellar international play for good measure, ensuring his rightful place among the top ten available players of this draft class.
- Age/Birthdate: 18 / January 26, 2001
- Birthplace: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
- Frame: 5-foot-11 / 181 lbs
- Position: Left Wing/Centre
- Handedness: Left
- Draft Year Team: Kootenay Ice (WHL)
- AMBHL Champion
- AMBHL Rookie of the Year
- AMBHL Most Points (102)
- AMBHL Most Valuable Player
- AMHL First All-Star Team
- AMHL Top Forward
- U16 WCCC Gold Medal
- U17 WHC Silver Medal
- WHL Most Points by Rookie (54)
- Hlinka Gretzky Cup Champion
- Hlinka Memorial Gold Medal
2018-19 Stat Rundown
|GP||G||A||P||INV%||5v5 Pr INV%||5v5 ePr60||SEAL||Sh/GP||Sh%||5v5 eTOI||GF%||GF%rel||GD60 rel||XLS%||Top XLS%||XPR|
Peyton Krebs is a dynamic player with plus-level talent in several different categories, so it might seem a little bit odd to claim that his best attribute is effort, but this claim is simply undeniable. Krebs was once described to me as a player that treats each and every shift as though it’s Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, and there’s no better way that I can think of to describe Krebs’ approach to the game.
This is all the more impressive when you consider that Krebs has been playing for a team that hasn’t even participated in the first round of the playoffs for four consecutive seasons in a league where 16 of 22 teams make the cut. Don’t hang that on Krebs though; in every game I saw Krebs, he was the hardest-working player on the ice, and by all accounts that was the case in every other game as well. That’s the mark of a leader, and that hasn’t been lost on anyone: Krebs captained both the Kootenay Ice this past season as well as Team Canada at the World Under-18’s in Slovakia in April.
We generally caution against making picks based on effort or leadership alone. Players with talent and no effort are frustrating, but players with effort and no talent are just anchors that are pleasant to look at. It’s important to have a measure of both, and luckily Krebs has both in spades.
We’ll start with the skating. Krebs is a phenomenal skater, among the best in the WHL. He’s explosive, agile and elusive, making separation between him and defenders seem effortless. On a lackluster team, much of the transition play was handled by Krebs on his own, and this was not an issue. He collects pucks in his own zone and instantly separates from backchecking forwards, slashing across the neutral zone. He attacks defenders with earned confidence, before beating them wide or inside, or finding an open teammate, depending on the holes he can create in the opposition.
This attribute often goes hand in hand with his defensive play, as Krebs is so frequently involved in the recovery of pucks in his own zone, through awareness, anticipation and hard work, and frequently turns those recoveries into offensive-zone possession by virtue of his one-man transition abilities.
It shouldn’t be left unsaid either that Krebs is a voracious battler along the boards, using body positioning to protect the puck and outlast opponents until he can manufacture a path to get the puck to a teammate.
Once in the offensive zone, Krebs controls the puck with natural ease, busting out a series of creative moves to dismantle defences.
Here, he enters the zone and then cuts back against a defender, creating space for himself. He then pulls the puck past another defender after subtly baiting them on the inside, before finding a wide-open teammate with a perfect pass between two more opponents.
In this next clip, while waiting by the net, he pounces on an opportunity to support a teammate by jumping into a patch of open space. Upon receiving the puck, Krebs draws in not one, but four opponents, creating a vast amount of open space for his teammates. He pulls a bait a switch on the first opponent, then nearly gets himself into trouble before off several checks and getting a pass through to an open teammate.
Krebs’ vision and playmaking are high-end tools, owing to superb handling and processing, allowing him to manipulate defenders until their formations fall apart and everyone start chasing him around the ice – Krebs of course has the skills to take full advantage of a broken defensive structure, feathering passes through to long forgotten teammates.
Last but not least, the kid can shoot the puck. He employs a quick, sneaky release on a powerful, accurate wrist shot. He can get the shot off while in stride, off either foot and even out in front of his body. With hardly any drawback, he frequently beats WHL goalies clean before they even realize he’s taken a shot. He picks his spots well, with smart selection and consistent use of close defenders as screens.
His slapshot is a weapon as well, and he’s dangerous on his backhand. He frequently targets areas between the glove/blocker and the pad, and has consistent success there from range. He also bangs in his fair share of garbage goals from just outside the crease.
Peyton Krebs has everything you’d want in an impact player. In my opinion, there are only a handful of players available in this draft that constitute a more complete overall package. Krebs might make it past the top five, but there’s no way that he’s getting out of the top ten.
Krebs is a former first-overall pick in the WHL Bantam draft. The following season (2016-17), amidst tearing apart his midget league, Krebs cameo’d in the WHL, picking up six points in as many games at the tender age of 15. The season after that, his full WHL rookie campaign, Krebs led all WHL rookies in points.
Based on his 2018-19 statistics, pGPS assesses Krebs to have a 27% likelihood of success. His list of similar players includes first liners like Jarome Iginla, Brendan Morrow, Andrew Ladd and Tyler Johnson, but the average of his successful matches leans toward the middle six of an NHL lineup.
The defining feature of Krebs from an analysis standpoint is how his poor team affected his numbers. I’ve covered this before, such as in the Maxim Cajkovic profile, and it’s quite prominent with Krebs. During the 2018-19 season, Krebs had an involvement percentage of 40%, bested only by Alex Newhook, Bobby Brink and Arthur Kaliyev among first-time eligible prospects from prominent feeder leagues.
Krebs had a strong performance at even strength, but not elite. Most impressive was his rate of first assists at evens; his 21 primary assists at even strength rank third among first-time draft-eligible CHL players. He derived a decent chunk of his offence from the power play, where he functioned as both a distributor and a finisher.
Krebs’ most common linemate was 21-year-old undrafted centreman Jaeger White. Krebs and White paired as well together as anyone on Kootenay, a team entirely bereft of NHL-drafted players.
Not many of the numbers here are rosy, but the on-ice goals statistics are particularly dire. The Ice scored 42 goals and allowed 74 with Krebs on the ice at 5-on-5 this season, for a goals-for percentage of 36%. Krebs failed to improve his team with any significance in this manner – with a GF%rel of just +0.01%, the Ice scored and allowed goals at essentially the same abysmal ratio when he was on or off the ice.
It’s hard to know how much of this to attribute to luck, however, as the Ice had far and away the worst save percentage in the WHL, with their goalies stopping just 87.3% of shots. Their shooting percentage (8.7%), while not the outright worst, was in the running to be so, giving them a league-worst PDO of .960. Given league-average shooting and save percentages, the team would have had a goals-for percentage of 45.5% as opposed to the atrocious 35.8% they actually recorded.
Because we don’t have individual on-ice statistics for the WHL, we can’t be certain of Krebs’ numbers in particular, but I’d feel comfortable in estimating that they are similar to the team’s as a whole.
The Ice elected not to move Krebs at the WHL trade deadline, and now it’s the team itself that’s on the move; they’ll be relocating to Winnipeg for the start of the 2019-20 season. Krebs will find himself once again heading up a struggling franchise, this time with the added pressure of spending its first season in a new city. Without some significant changes to the roster, it’s hard to imagine that Krebs takes an enormous step forward offensively. It seems likely that, once again, scouts and analysts will be tasked with judging Krebs against the backdrop of a bad team.
The numbers on the surface invite a degree of caution relative to some of the other high-end centres available in this draft (once Jack Hughes is off the board), such as Dylan Cozens, Kirby Dach and Alex Turcotte, but Krebs is right on the edge of that tier. There’s enough risk, however, to keep him at the back end of that group, despite how good he looks on the ice. That said, whoever drafts Krebs next month couldn’t possibly be disappointed in the package that they receive.
Additional Charts and Data
Rolling Season Data
Raw data for the charts used in this article came from eliteprospects.com and whl.ca.
Some clips were pulled from videos from prospectshifts.com. Check out Peyton Krebs’ page here (paywall).
Dad, husband, hockey fan. Founder/analyst/editor/admin of NextGenHockey.ca. Contributor at CanucksArmy and the Nation Network. Blending video analysis and statistical modeling. pGPS, SEAL, etc. The Minnesota Twins are finally good again!