The Kootenay ICE finished last in the overall standings in the WHL in two out of the last four seasons, and did not make the playoffs in any of those years. They spent a lot of that time getting shelled by other much stronger organizations. It wasn’t the best environment to foster the growth of a top prospect, but Peyton Krebs was the flower that emerged out of the barren land to show itself to the world.
With great resilience, an unwavering work ethic, and a burning desire to win despite the circumstances, Krebs lined up at the dot for the opening faceoff every game, ready to compete.
Birthplace: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Weight: 181 lbs.
Team: Kootenay ICE (WHL)
He barely broke the point-per-game mark this season, finishing with 68 points in 64 games, but a closer look at the numbers reveals his dominance. He outscored his next closest teammate by 16 points. On a very low-scoring team overall, he participated to 40% of his club’s goals this season — a proportion roughly equivalent to some of the top point-producers in the WHL.
Krebs was the go-to guy for Kootenay in most situations, and was relied upon to generate offence for the team, which he did thanks to a solid skill set.
Let’s start with his skating. The forward isn’t the fastest in straight-line speed, and the technique of his forward stride isn’t perfect. Yet he remains one of the top skaters in this draft due to his ability to accelerate with crossovers. He understands that the game is not so much about being blazing fast, but much more about changing speeds at the right times.
Krebs can switch gears rapidly by crossing his feet multiple times to fly past the defence, but he also makes good uses of linear crossovers, which, in the words of Darryl Belfry, is a quick burst of speed when the impression of maximum speed has been established.
Follow #19 in the first two sequences below. He strides forward a few times, setting a pace as he approaches the last line of defence. As soon as he is about to level with it, he crosses his feet one last time to jump forward. This last burst surprises the defender closest to him and allows Krebs to get fully open in the middle of the slot. It leads to a great scoring chance.
The video continues with a few examples of Krebs’s edgework and agility. The forward can open his hips, placing his skates heel-to-heel to remain facing the play in the offensive zone. He has the power to continue shuffling in this position as he circles the opposing end of the ice. He also shows quick feet and can ride his edges, shifting his weight from skate to skate to evade the defence and protect the puck.
He also possesses shifty hands to go along with his skating prowess. He handles the puck very well in tight spaces, even against a lot of defensive pressure, and can get inside the defensive box with timely moves.
Watch him drag the puck around a first defender, recover with the toe of his backhand, then fake going for a shot from this position only to quickly bring the puck back to his forehand to fire a shot from the middle of the slot.
What stands out about his abilities is how he can use them all to play a very quick game. He is aware of his surroundings, shoulder-checking when he has possession and when he is about to get possession, and because of that he can find supporting options in a second. But even when Krebs is caught off-guard by the defence, he seems to find solutions to get himself out of trouble in a snap. Those are qualities that make his play easily projectable to the fast-paced professional game.
The following few sequences show him either adjusting on the fly to his surroundings, performing high-skill plays in succession, or incorporating the sticks of his teammates quickly to keep the puck in the control of his team.
The first clip is especially impressive as Krebs, a bit late at reading the opposing pressure in this instance, comes face-to-face with a forechecker. He stops himself an instant from touching the puck with his backhand while shuffling it to instead immediately slide it in an area for a teammate to skate into.
Krebs will probably act more as a playmaker in the pros. His rapid execution combined with an ability to create space generally tends to benefit others more than him in Junior. That being said, he also has an accurate shot, and it’s possible that a better supporting cast, able to set him up just as well as he sets up others, could turn him into a solid goal-scorer too.
Taking into consideration the strength of his team, the advanced stats also paint Krebs as more of a passing threat than a shooter. His two-way abilities, a product of his strong work ethic and ability to read the game, is also reflected in his backchecking involvement and his ability to get the puck out of the defensive zone in a controlled way.
What pops out above everything else is Krebs’s knack for creating controlled entries, either carrying the puck in the offensive end or passing it there with regularity. He tops all other players tracked in this facet of the game, which directly transitions to more dangerous offence, specifically to more scoring chances generated. It’s another facet of his play that will be very interesting to follow as he transitions to the professional level.
Krebs should realistically go inside the top 10 in the 2019 draft. It’s possible he falls slightly due to the uncertainty that comes with playing for such a weak team, but his play at the World Junior Championship, where he scored 10 points in seven games, must have eased whatever concerns scouts had. Truly, the skill set of the forward combined with his drive and vision should make him a very attractive target for any of the lottery teams. He is also versatile, having played both on the wing and at centre this season for Kootenay.
Rankings (not all rankings are final)
Elite Prospects: #8
Future Considerations: #8
Hockey Prospect: #6
ISS Hockey: #10
McKeen’s Hockey: #8
NHL Central Scouting: #10 (NA skaters)
Next season, as the ICE relocates to Winnipeg, there is hope for a different story for Krebs. The change of scenery could be the new beginning that the organization needs, helping them work their way into playoff contention by surrounding their star with more talent.