With the eighth overall selection in the 2019 NHL (SBN Mock) Entry Draft, the Edmonton Oilers (Blog) is proud to select,
from the Kootenay (and soon to be Winnipeg) Ice of the Western Hockey League,
from Okotoks, Alberta
*Rapturous -- no, thunderous -- applause*
The Book on Peyton
NHL CSS: 10th NA Skater
The Athletic (Pronman, May 21): 13th Overall
The Athletic (Wheeler, May 6): 6th Overall
TSN (McKenzie, April 4): 12th Overall
ISS (May 1): 8th Overall
Average Rank (~18 scouting services): 10.11
The Oilers will need good, young, cheap, good forwards to complement their superstars for the next decade, at least. We’re taking Peyton Krebs ALL DAY at eight here to further stock the cupboards with another player who stands every chance to fill that role with the big club in the next couple of years. Krebs can skate, he can play with and without the puck, he can play with high-end talent, and he’s spent time both at centre and on the wing. He’s not huge, but not undersized, and he’s a monster below the goal line who also happens to speak fluent puck and can make things happen with it other players can’t even conceptualize. If Krebs was surrounded by a few more horses, we might be talking about a guy we’d be lucky to get at eight, rather than (maybe) arguably reaching a touch here. Of course, that’s before even considering his Alberta roots and overall Western Canadianness. Add those two most tangible of intangibles into the mix and it makes you wonder what everybody else was thinking when they let this guy fall to eight,
Puck Skills: 55
Physical Game: 45
Hockey Sense: 65
“Krebs was in a tough situation on a rebuilding Kootenay team this season, but he was everything that team could have hoped for. He was an all-situations center, a 17-year-old captain and a consistent offensive threat. Krebs has a giddy-up in his step, as he skates quite well, and has so much energy to his game. He’s always on the move, be it winding up in his defensive zone or hunting down pucks. Some scouts feel his feet are high end. I see more just good, but I see the argument for his overall pace. Krebs is also a fantastic playmaker and one of the best passers in the draft. He’s always looking to make a play and has some of the most creative plays I’ve seen this season. His seam pass completion rate is very high. Krebs is also a competitive defensive forward who can kill penalties and be trusted to do so in the pros. He has some push back in his game and isn’t afraid to mix it up. Some scouts said he’s a high-end skill guy. I haven’t seen that; rather I see a skilled player who looks to use his teammates more than do it all himself. He’s a play-driving center who can be used in any situation and that’s very valuable.”
-Corey Pronman (The Athletic)
”Krebs is one of those kids whose production (1.06 points per game) and minus-50 rating raise questions with casual fans over his merits as a top-10 pick. But he’s also a perfect example of what I talked about in my scouting guide regarding team-to-team variance in the CHL because Krebs played on a Kootenay team that, in its final season ahead of relocation to Winnipeg, finished 21st in the 22-team WHL and was outscored by 143 goals. Krebs, meanwhile, contributed on nearly 40 percent of his team’s goals and paced to outscore his nearest teammate by 20 points over the course of a 68-game season. The WHL’s 2016 first-overall pick, Krebs led all rookies in scoring in 2017-2018 and has been dominant in all three major international tournaments he has played in, combining for 21 points in 17 games at U17s, U18s and the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. Krebs can score with his quick, no-drawback, low-kick release in transition (he lacks a one-timer but that’s fine in the grand scheme of things because of the way he gets open), makes plays at full speed (with an impressive top speed) and draws a lot of attention away from his linemates.”
-Scott Wheeler (The Athletic)
”No. 9 is Peyton Krebs, the sub-6 foot, two-way centre from the Kootenay Ice, the fourth and final Canadian WHLer in the Top 10. Krebs, at 5-foot-11-1/4 and 180 pounds, is an energetic and industrious playmaking pivot who has a high hockey IQ. He has 16 goals and 37 assists for 53 points in 44 games, which reinforces his reputation as playmaker more than a scorer but some questions about size and offensive upside will be raised.
Six of 10 scouts surveyed by TSN had Krebs in their Top 10.”
-Bob McKenzie (TSN - from January’s list, which had Krebs higher than his April list)
”Peyton Krebs is a potent point-producer and offensive catalyst that rises to the occasion whenever he’s on the ice. He is a smooth, shifty skater that traverses all three zones with ease and closes the gap on the backcheck quickly. Defensively, his understanding of the game communicates itself through his proactive positioning and an active, lane-disrupting stick. Willing to go to the dirty areas and fight for the puck, but isn’t at his best there. Offensively, below the opposition’s blue line, he is an electric, dominant force that showcases excellent decision-making and undeniable puck skills. He’s aggressive, but never takes stupid penalties that will put his team in disadvantage state. Krebs’ hockey sense is on full display when he’s making moves, creating space, and orchestrating opportunities for himself and linemates. All-in-all, Peyton Krebs is an exciting mix of speed, skill, smarts, and hard-nosedness in all three zones. He’s got a very high ceiling.”
-Curtis Joe (Eliteprospects.com)
From Around SBNation:
Habs Eyes on the Prize - In-depth look at Krebs with skill-specific video and analysis.
Our Take, Again
While the average ranks might suggest a slight reach at eight; Peyton Krebs had a tough enough season to slide at least a spot or two down some prominent draft lists - TSN’s Bob McKenzie’s for one - the scouting reports those rankings rely on sing the praises of an intelligent, skilled, competitive (I know) F/W who was significantly better than his teammates, who led a basement WHL team as a 17-year old, can skate like the dickens, can make some plays, and chipped in on almost 40% of his team’s goals for the season. Sound familiarish? He’ll fit right in here! For some context, Dylan Cozens’ 84 points means he chipped in on slightly more than 30% of his team’s total offense, and he’s projected in the top-5 on most draft lists. Kirby Dach, another top-10 guy on most lists, was closer to 30% too.
Meager totals of 19-49-68 in 64GP this season, at least on the surface, might lead the uninitiated to believe that Krebs stagnated this season after being the WHL’s top scorer among rookies in 2017-18. That he managed to barely eke above a point per game pace and still lapped his teammates (leading scorer by 16 points on a team where only three guys had more than 30 points all season) suggests his supporting cast really was that bad.
An above-average (at worst) skater with a plus hockey brain and a genuine and (allegedly) infectious drive to excel, the former WHL Bantam Draft first overall pick projects as a top-six forward at the NHL level, with the tools to chip in with talented players higher up the lineup and to kill penalties with the lunchbox types in the bottom half. Given Edmonton’s lack of anything dangerous up front outside of maybe 3-4 guys, it’s pretty easy to project Krebs (assuming he stays on his current trajectory) into the Oilers’ lineup and expect him to contribute in a couple years.
Krebs relied upon his high-level playmaking ability and offensive creativity to produce some of the most delicious plays The Athletic’s Corey Pronman has seen all season. Given that Pronman’s lot is to rigorously evaluate these prospects from June to next June every year, that’s high praise.
Curiously, one wonders if his being partial to those kinds of plays - his inclination to pass first and involve his teammates - that ultimately hurt his draft stock this season. While the notion of involving your teammates is admirable, if they are terrible, it might be net negative for your team. And, perhaps, individually, as Sportsnet’s Sam Cosentino noted in January that Krebs was proving tough for scouts to pin down by virtue of how horrendous his team was. It’s worth noting that he’s performed very well at the U-17 and U-18 levels internationally, most recently to the tune of 6-4-10 in 7GP alongside Cozens. This brief - but impressive - sample is worth noting as it gives credence to the reports of Krebs’ talent as well as his ability to play with it.
Krebs’ WHL career so far bears at least some similarities to Sean Monahan’s in the OHL. A center who by most accounts was excellent in most situations most of the time, but perhaps underrated on draft day given his team’s overall performance. Monahan currently ranks second in NHL scoring among 2013 draftees, so even though it’s gross and makes me feel gross to even think this, the Oilers will be happy if those similarities continue at the next level.
What’s The Plan
Prudence suggest Krebs could use another year - probably two - in the CHL before talking turkey professionally. Though the Oilers have a dearth of talent up front outside of some marquee guys, they will always need cheap, productive talent to complement the McDavid and Draisaitl cap hits moving forward and may be wise to avoid rushing yet another top-ten prospect through their ELC. Of course, I’m still very much a believer in ‘if you’re good enough, you’re old enough’, so in that regard Krebs’ development should ultimately dictate where he plays the next couple of years. If his WHL coach is to be believed, “He’s a very mature kid. He does everything possible off ice to make himself better. He goes full out effort all the time on the ice. He’s skilled, he can skate, he can make so many plays. I expect him to be an explosive top-six forward in the NHL.”
Here are the picks in our 2019 SB Nation Mock Draft (so far...)