The last week and a half has been busy for the Philadelphia Flyers. First, they traded for defenseman Matt Niskanen; then they went on to trade for defenseman Justin Braun, and then they finally signed center Kevin Hayes to a seven-year deal that’s worth fifty million. Talk about a mouthful right there. The thing is, it’s far from over. Tonight, the city of Vancouver will host the 2019 NHL Draft and the next group of young studs will dawn a sweater of one of the 31 NHL teams. So what better time than now to take a look at who the Orange and Black could target with the 11th overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.
This years’ draft features tons of talent. From defenseman Cam York to goalie Spencer Knight to forward Jack Hughes. Each position has a lot of potential. Speaking of forwards, center Peyton Krebs of the Winnipeg Ice (formerly known as Kootenay Ice) is a guy that many teams likely have on their radar. After all, he’s a special player. Unfortunately for Krebs, his draft stock may have very well taken a hit after it was reported that he had partially torn his ACL during the offseason. How big of a hit? Well, that remains to be seen. However, it may have just been enough for Krebs to still be on the board when it’s the Flyers turn to take the stage.
A few months back , Peyton was nice enough to sit down and do a phone interview with me. As soon as we started talking, I could tell he meant business. Not only did he talk about how excited he was about the upcoming draft, but he also reiterated that it was extremely important to stay focused and continue to get better.
“It’s exciting for sure. It’s not something you want to get your mind too caught up in. Obviously, you want to focus on what you’ve been doing to get you here, and that’s playing hockey. I think it’s been a pretty fun year with everything that’s been going on with talking to scouts and what not but at the same time you just got to focus on just playing hockey” said Krebs when talking about this year’s draft.
Talk about a true professional. Someone who isn’t afraid to show his emotions, but at the same time knows that he has to stay on track in order to get better and hopefully, one day, be one of the best. After all, attitude goes a long way in this league.
So who is Peyton Krebs as a player and what does he bring to the ice? Well, a lot actually. Yes, he’s a bit on the smaller side, but man oh man is he dangerous. In his first full year with the team, the 5’11”, 181 lb center registered 54 points (17 goals, 37 assists) in 67 games for Kootenay Ice. This resulted in the team naming him the 23rd captain in franchise history, putting a little more pressure on him. That didn’t seem to affect his game though. If anything, it improved it. This past year he tallied 68 points (19 goals, 49 assists) in 64 games on a team that just wasn’t clicking.
The 18-year-old brings tons of skill to the ice. For one, he’s an outstanding play maker. He sees things that most guys probably don’t, and he is extremely good when distributing the puck. Stick handling is another one of his strengths. If you’re not careful, he may very well make you look silly. Something that may be very intriguing to Flyers general manager, Chuck Fletcher, is Krebs’ defensive game. He’s very good when his team is down a man. The Flyers are always looking to improve on that aspect of the game. His shot is more of an underrated one. Being more of a “pass first” kind of guy tends to make people look the other way when it comes to him shooting the puck. However, that makes him even that much more dangerous. Just when you think he’s going to pass, he has the ability to put one bar down. Finally, his speed and agility are both something to watch out for. It won’t be easy to slow down a guy like Krebs.
“ I’m a puck possession player that can see the ice well and I like to use my speed. I think I’d bring a lot of tenacious aspects to the game. I think I’m a hard worker and a consistent player and I think I can bring a lot to the team each and every night”, said Krebs when talking about what he brings to the ice.
One guy Krebs looks up to and tries to emulate is Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. Toews is a three-time Stanley Cup Champion (09-10, 12-13, 14-15) and has also been awarded the Selke Trophy (2012-2013), the Mark Messier Award (2014-2015), and the Conn Smythe Trophy (2009-2010).
“A guy that I’ve kind of watched a lot is Jonathan Toews. He’s a hard worker. I like the way he plays. I try to model my game after him and try to take a little bit of everything from him and apply it as much as possible”, said Krebs when talking about what player he models his game off of.
As for what he can improve on, well there’s not much. One thing that does come to mind though is his size. Beefing up just a bit wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. That way, when needed, he can have more success in board battles against bigger guys down the line. His shot is another thing he could improve on and he reiterated that in the interview. Putting on some muscle, as previously mentioned, will help with that. It’s not so much the accuracy, but the strength.
Krebs believes that he can improve on all aspects of his game. Not because he’s struggling, but to simply improve and become a better player.
“I think definitely I’m working on every aspect of my game. I’m trying to get better each and every day. Some of the things I’ve been working on is my defensive play and little things that I’ve been working on with my coach such as a good stick and the PK. I want to get a harder shot also. I think you can have a lot more scoring opportunities with a harder shot and doing little things like that to try and evolve my game”, said Krebs when talking about what part of his game he can improve on.
In the end, it all depends on whether or not Krebs is still available when it comes time for the Flyers to make their pick. The Flyers should consider themselves very lucky if Krebs is still there at number eleven, but it’s very possible that a team like the Anaheim Ducks, or the Edmonton Oilers, decides to take a chance on him. At that point, all of this becomes a moot point. If the Flyers do obtain Krebs, and he turns out to be anywhere near the player he’s expected to be, then Flyers fans…. you’re in for a real treat.
Photo courtesy of Cranbrook Daily Townsman