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Krebs' Achilles injury leaves 2019 NHL Draft standing in question

Kootenay forward had surgery for partial tear June 7, still could be top 15 selection

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

Peyton Krebs is regarded as a great leader and voice of reason for teammates.

The 5-foot-11, 183-pound center for Kootenay of the Western Hockey League will have that confidence and work ethic put to the test this summer while he recovers from surgery June 7 to repair a partial tear to his Achilles tendon.

Krebs, No. 10 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, was a projected top-15 selection in the 2019 NHL Draft before sustaining the injury during an on-ice training session June 4. He led Kootenay with 68 points (19 goals, 49 assists), 1.06 points per game and eight power-play goals in 64 games even though Kootenay finished 21st of 22 teams in the WHL.

He capped his season as Canada's captain at the 2019 IIHF World Under-18 Championship; his six goals in seven games led the team and his 10 points tied for first.

Krebs' agent, Kevin Korol, said he expects to have a recovery timeframe within the next week.

How much the injury will affect Krebs' standing as an early first-round selection is unknown. He already had a lot of teams interested in him, as evidenced by the 23 teams he interviewed with at the NHL Scouting Combine in May.

"It's unfortunate that Peyton had to undergo surgery yet the timing, while adding to the draft intrigue, also allows him the offseason to rehab," director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr said. "He is such a well-known, respected and valued prospect that it's unlikely to influence any club's decision-making on draft day. Peyton Krebs is one of those coveted high-character players who always finds a way to contribute and is a leader both on and off the ice."

TSN director of scouting Craig Button, who was general manager of the Calgary Flames from 2000-03, said teams will do their due diligence in learning everything they can about Krebs' injury.

"The first thing teams will do is get information on his injury, ask his agent and advisory group for the medical reports and ask to talk to the surgeon and the doctor," Button said. "Getting those answers from a medical standpoint is the most important thing before you start to make any other determinations.

"I don't have the medical report (on Krebs), but from what I understand and in talking to medical people, this is an injury that will have little to no impact on his future potential and it will heal. It's just a matter of the time he won't be on skates."

Button said even if Krebs' recovery keeps him off the ice until after the start of next season, his talent should keep him a lottery pick.

"It's a setback but a short-term setback," Button said. "If you're satisfied with the medical report that it'll have no long-term implications, then look at him in terms of being a healthy player and just know he's not going to be able to participate in some games in the shorter term. But he's not ready to play in the NHL next October anyway, so I think you're looking at the long-term and not the short-term in this situation."

The first round of the draft at Rogers Arena in Vancouver is June 21 (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS). Rounds 2-7 are June 22 (1 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN).

The injury just added to what had been a tough season for Krebs, a skilled workaholic, who was named captain in December and knew since January that Kootenay would be moving from their current home in Cranbrook, British Columbia, to Winnipeg before the start of next season.

"I love hockey, love getting better every day, so I always just tried to come to the rink, put a smile on my face," Krebs told during the combine. "I'm a competitive guy, want to win and want to be better every day, but I just tried to come to the rink, be a guy my teammates can go to. I think if you can play the right way then things will turn around eventually."

That attitude was as important off the ice as his strong play was on it.

"Through all this adversity, including having a couple players quit and trading away a few 19-year-old players, his leadership remained constant," Kootenay coach and former NHL defenseman James Patrick said. "The culture that he brings and exudes rubs off on other guys. He is the farthest thing from a player to blame someone else or wonder if I had this or that player. Peyton has repeatedly said to me, 'I want to make a difference.'"

Krebs enjoyed taking part in what had become a traditional post-practice workout with Patrick.

"After each game we went over video, but after every practice coach gave me about 100 passes and I took 100 shots," Krebs said. "It's the only way to improve in a game where it seems the players just keep getting better."

Krebs paid particular attention to his one-timer and made sure his release was smooth and accurate from different areas in the offensive zone. The workout consisted of 40 one-timers from the middle of the blue line, 40 from the face-off circle, and 20 off backdoor passes.

"We watched lot of NHL hockey and he'll say, 'Did you see that goal by (Vancouver Canucks forward) Elias Pettersson?'" Patrick said. "I'll tell him that's a skill he can improve if he works at it, and sure enough that day or the next day he's asking me to pass pucks. But that's just the way he is.

"It's not so much about velocity or deception at his age as it is getting your weight into it, the footwork, and being able to shoot it when the pass isn't perfectly in your wheelhouse. All those things go into it, but Peyton worked tirelessly at that this year, and it showed."

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