Peyton Krebs owns one of the finest skill sets ever put on display in the WHL. He’s also paid the price, physically, for his on-ice dominance.
In the summer of 2019, he suffered a partially torn Achilles in his left foot and required months of rehab before returning to the Winnipeg Ice. Last month he sustained another freak injury when his jaw was fractured after he absorbed a slapshot to the face from teammate Shea Theodore in his fourth NHL game with the Vegas Golden Knights.
Krebs had surgery to repair the fracture and has resumed skating. He remains sidelined indefinitely but, at the very least, he will be able to console himself with another award. On Thursday, he was named winner of the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy as the WHL’s player of the year.
Earlier, the 20-year-old centre captured the Bobby Clarke Trophy as the league’s leading scorer in 2021. He registered 43 points, including 13 goals, during an incredible 24-game run during the East Division hub. He registered a point in all but Winnipeg’s opener, establishing a franchise record point-scoring streak of 23 games.
Following the hub, Krebs quickly made his NHL debut, registering an assist in four games before being sidelined.
Krebs was unavailable for comment Thursday but Ice head coach James Patrick was asked to forecast his level of his success in the big leagues.
"Coaching him in junior I wondered where he would fit in the NHL, because the NHL has this incredible way of putting everyone in their place," said Patrick. "There’s been so many great players in junior… scorers like Guy Carbonneau, a leading scorer in the Quebec Major League who goes to the NHL and becomes one of the best defensive forwards.
"I am 1,000 per cent sure that Peyton Krebs is going to play in the NHL. He will do whatever it takes to be the best player he can possibly be and I can’t say that about (many) players. I just think he’s going to be a top-six forward, who has energy, who can make plays."
Krebs may be slightly undersized, but his skating, brains and attention to detail should put him in a good position in Vegas, where the forward depth chart may be stacked but salary-cap pressures are certain to create opportunity for younger players.
He may also come under consideration to be inserted into the lineup as his recovery continues and Vegas goes deeper into the post-season after winning their second-round playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche Thursday.
"He’s too driven, he’s too good of an athlete — and by that, I mean this kid is so fit and so into fitness and training that he will find a way to play at the speed to make plays," said Patrick. "I know he’s six-feet, 5-11 right now and 185 pounds but I think, when it’s all said and done, he’ll be 195 pounds. A pretty explosive, dynamic forward. He can become that."
Krebs also finished second among WHL skaters in power-play goals (eight) and tied for fourth in power-play assists (13). He was the second player in franchise history to win player-of-the-year honours, joining centre Sam Reinhart, who accomplished the feat in 2013-14.
Around the WHL: The Calgary Hitmen have hired Garry Davidson as their new director of player personnel. Davidson, a Souris product, was unable to agree to contract terms with the Everett Silvertips after nine seasons as the club’s GM. The team also announced Winnipegger Gary Michalick will be returning for his fifth year as travelling scout… Former Ice goaltender Jesse Makaj has landed with the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express. The Express acquired his rights in a multi-player trade from the Prince George Spruce Kings. Makaj, 20, left Winnipeg midway through the 2019-20 season… Brandonite Max Paddock, a 20-year-old goaltender who played for Regina and Prince Albert in his five WHL seasons, will attend Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S., next fall… The Lethbridge Hurricanes have dealt Carl Tetachuk, 20, to the Moose Jaw Warriors for a conditional seventh-round draft pick in 2024. The move leaves the Hurricanes with three prospective overage players: blue-liner Alex Cotton and forwards Logan Barlage and Justin Hall.
Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.