This year’s NHL Draft was held at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on June 21-22.
The first Canadian chosen was Kirby Dach of the Saskatoon Blades, who went to the Chicago Blackhawks. Next up was Vancouver Giants defenseman Bowen Byram.
Dylan Cozens was the next Canadian up, as the Buffalo Sabres picked him seventh. Alex Newhook of the Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL) was the fourth Canadian, picked at 16th overall.
The Vegas Golden Knights, who are preparing for their third season in the league, picked 17th overall. With
that selection, the team chose Winnipeg ICE forward Peyton Krebs. The 18-year-old out of Okotoks, Alberta, was the fifth Canadian picked at this year’s Entry Draft.
He was the fourth WHL player chosen and also the only member of the ICE organization that was drafted.
Krebs is the fourth player in ICE franchise history to be selected in the first round. Sam Reinhart (2nd overall in 2014, Buffalo Sabres), Dan Blackburn (10th overall in 2001, New York Rangers), and Steve McCarthy (23rd overall in 1999, Chicago Blackhawks) are the other three.
“It was a pretty special moment, words can’t really describe the feeling,” said Krebs. “Having my family and friends in attendance and everyone who supported me growing up, that meant a lot. The whole experience is something that I’ll never forget.”
“I was really happy to go to the Vegas Golden Knights. What they’ve done in the past two years and the people in the organization, it’s pretty special,” Krebs continued. “I’m blessed to have the opportunity to play hockey every day and it’s amazing to be drafted to the NHL. Now, I just have to work as hard as I can to get a spot on the team.”
Peyton did suffer a setback in early June before he was drafted, suffering an Achilles tendon injury. He underwent surgery for a partial tear on June 8. Nearly a month after the incident, Peyton is doing his best to move on and get back to where he needs to be.
“Rehab is going great right now. I’m just taking it day-by-day, I need to be healthy,” said Krebs. “It obviously sucks, but it is what it is. Healing is going good, so that’s all I can ask for.”
After being chosen 17th overall, Krebs has yet to sign a contract, but it’s not something he’s really worried about.
“I’m just worried about healing my injury right now, that’s my main focus,” said Krebs. “After that, I plan to show what I can do, and we’ll go from there.”
Krebs isn’t sure if he will be ready for training camp, but he does know he’s excited about the move to Winnipeg.
“Winnipeg is going to be pretty special. To have a new team, new buzz, new energy, it’s going to be really cool playing there,” said Krebs. “I think we have a good group that’s looking good.”
Last year, the team went 13-45-7-3 in what was their last season in Cranbrook. Their 36 points were the second-least in the WHL. They also allowed a league-most 324 goals.
With the pre-season set to begin in just two months’ time, Winnipeg has a ton of optimism ahead of the 2019-20 campaign.
“Definitely, I think this is the year to make a significant turnaround from last year,” said Krebs. “We have a lot of new faces, a new culture, but we also have a lot of good returning players. We’re going to be a good team this year.”
Peyton led all ICE scorers last season with 68 points (19G). He also put up 10 points (6G) in seven games as a Captain for the U18 Canadian team. Five of those points came at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
Ahead of the upcoming campaign, Peyton is ready to give it all he has when he’s able to do so.
“This team winning games is what really matters, not necessarily my points,” said Krebs. “I just want to improve my game each and every day and help the team win games. I think if I’m playing well, the points will come with that.”