Before the Golden Knights selected Peyton Krebs at #17 in the 2019 NHL Draft, they had to sit and wait. They watched names like Jack Hughes, Kaapo Kakko, and Kirby Dach be selected by other NHL teams as the clock ticked closer and closer to the Golden Knights turn.
However, thanks to a little behind the scenes video tweeted out by the Montreal Canadiens, we now know that the Golden Knights weren’t just sitting on their hands waiting. The video shows Canadiens GM, Marc Bergevin, picking up the phone while Montreal was on the clock.
Hello. Yeah. What are you offering? Hold on. (sets phone down to speak to staff) 3rd round pick to move two spots. (Staff member shakes head and says “No.”) No, we’re picking. -Marc Bergevin
Here’s the video so you can see it yourself.
The moment when Habs staff knew they were getting their man.
Watch the full behind-the-scenes video from the #NHLDraft in Vancouver.
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) August 24, 2019
On the other side of the phone was almost certainly George McPhee (or Kelly McCrimmon or someone else on the Golden Knights staff). We can only speculate this because the Golden Knights were the team that held the pick “two spots” from the Canadiens.
The Habs declined and went on to select Cole Caufield, a diminutive forward that put up astronomical scoring numbers with the US National Team Development Program (USHL). The next pick belonged to the Colorado Avalanche who selected Alex Newhook, a 200-foot explosive center from the BCHL. Then Vegas was on the clock and they took Peyton Krebs. (Here are a few stories about Peyton if you forgot who he is. Story 1, Story 2, Story 3)
So, who was the guy the Golden Knights were going up to get? We know it was Caufield, Newhook, or Krebs, but which one will forever remain a mystery. Whoever it was, Vegas felt strongly enough about him, and were concerned that either Montreal or Colorado would select him, that they were willing to give up 3rd round pick to go get him.
If it’s Krebs, the Golden Knights lucked out that Montreal turned them down as they still got him and didn’t have to forfeit the additional pick. However, if it’s Caufield or Newhook (it’s more likely Newhook based on the style of player the Golden Knights prefer) the Golden Knights may have missed out on the guy they really wanted by as little as a single pick.
After the draft, the Golden Knights certainly made it sound like Krebs was the one they wanted all along.
It was really exciting for our organization that he got to our pick, we sure didn’t anticipate that going into the first round so we’re really pleased that it turned out the way that it did. -Kelly McCrimmon
However, McCrimmon was a little less forthcoming when he was asked about trading up.
You go into it assuming you are going to select 17 but as a staff we had gone through different trade down scenarios, different trade-up scenarios, so that’s just part of being prepared. As picks kept being made we continued to have guys there we thought were going to be there at 17 we didn’t feel the need (to trade up), and yet you’ve got your fingers crossed that it plays out the way that you’re betting or the way that you’re hoping that it does. -McCrimmon
So then, with Krebs drafted and the 3rd round pick they offered to Montreal still in their possession, the Golden Knights stayed on the prowl.
In the 2nd round, Vegas moved up seven picks from 48 to 41 in a trade with San Jose. What did it cost them?
That same 3rd round pick.
McPhee, McCrimmon, and company entered the Draft with three 3rd round picks, and obviously, felt it would be best to use one of them as currency to ensure they were able to select a player they really wanted. That player may have been Caufield or Newhook, but it definitely is Kaedan Korczak who they selected at #41.
This type of maneuvering is incredibly common at the Draft as teams watch names get crossed off their respective draft boards. But usually, that info never makes it to the public. In this case, it did, and now we’ve got a few more names to keep an eye on, because had that “No” from Montreal been a “Yes,” the Golden Knights might have Caufield or Newhook instead of Krebs. (They also might not have Korczak.)