Peyton Krebs is a skilled forward from the Kootenay Ice of the WHL. He’s described as a high-end playmaker and a constant difference maker and excelled despite playing for one of the worst teams in the WHL. Most consider him one of the best forwards eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft.
However, last week it was revealed that he tore his Achilles tendon in an offseason training session.
Mishap happened Tuesday on the ice … another player's skate blade cut through Krebs's cut-proof sock and into his Achilles tendon. Underwent surgery for partial tear Friday in Calgary. Full recovery expected, according to agent Kevin Korol. No timeline yet. https://t.co/Ih6zS4OWV1
Now, a player previously considered a top 10 caliber pick could slip down the draft boards of many teams. What was once a player the Golden Knights had almost no chance of getting ay pick 17, suddenly might be available when Vegas is on the clock on June 21st.
The question is whether George McPhee, Kelly McCrimmon, and the Golden Knights front office would be willing to take the leap of faith that he’ll recover and end up being the player he was projected to become.
The Golden Knights have only participated in two entry drafts since becoming a franchise. In the first of them, in 2017, they selected Jake Leschyshyn with the final pick of the 2nd Round. Four months prior to the selection Leschyshyn was widely considered a 1st round talent, but his season was cut short when he tore his ACL. This didn’t stop the Golden Knights from selecting him as what could be viewed as a value pick late in the 2nd Round.
Over the past weekend, I spent four days in San Diego watching the Chicago Wolves play three games in the Western Conference Final of the AHL’s Calder Cup. My focus was specifically on the Golden Knights draft picks and the players Vegas has under control for beyond this season.
To make this easiest to write, and hopefully to read, I’ve listed every player that either played or I was able to talk to while in San Diego, that has time left on their contract with VGK or are RFAs.
Cody Glass (1st Round, 6th overall in 2017, $863,333 AAV through 21-22)
Anyone who reads/follows me closely knows I haven’t been as high on Glass as the rest of the world seems to be. I’ve come to the realization that the reason for this isn’t because I necessarily view him as a player much differently than most, but that my expectations are substantially higher. As the 6th overall pick in a draft class that includes Elias Petterson, Miro Heiskanen, Cale Makar, Nico Hischier, and many others that have already had major impacts in the NHL, my expectation for Glass is massive. Top-six forward, impact player, one of the faces of the franchise. That’s what I’m looking for, and still, even though the next paragraph is going to make it sound otherwise, I’m not sure he’s going to be that guy.
Glass literally does everything on the hockey rink that you want to see from a center. The skill that jumped out most to me over the three games was his backchecking and breakouts. Every time his line turned it over in the offensive zone, he was flying back to negate any transition chance. His skating speed really showed in that sense, but also showed once the Wolves recovered the puck and began their transition back into the offensive zone. He’s terrific carrying the puck out of the D-zone, through the neutral zone, and into the O-zone. I’ve seen him do it with ease at the CHL level, but to see it look exactly the same at the AHL level gives me a strong belief that it’ll continue in the NHL.
I liked how he played along the walls, I loved his vision, his positioning, his movement in the offensive zone. Pretty much everything he did, I thought, yep, this guy is pretty darn good. But still, over the course of three games, there wasn’t enough shown in his ability to create offense. It’s the only thing I can knock him for, but at the same time, it’s the thing I value most in a high draft pick forward. Aside from the occasional chance created directly off an entry (which I do believe will continue in the NHL), there wasn’t a ton created beyond rebound chances. Again, I’m aware that my expectations are gigantic, and I’m asking a lot out of him having played a month in the AHL, but I still didn’t see enough of what I needed to in order to completely change my mind and say he’s going to be a superstar in the NHL.
Cody Glass is going to be an NHL player, and I’m probably going to be on the bandwagon calling for him to make the roster out of camp, but I’m still on the fence of whether I think he’s closer to a Cody Eakin or a William Karlsson. When all is said and done I’m confident he’ll fall somewhere in between these two, however, my opinion still shades more towards 21 than 71.
Nic Hauge(2nd Round, 34th overall in 2017, $791,667 AAV through 21-22)
I came into the weekend expecting to come out saying Hague is the surefire #1 defensive prospect in the Golden Knights system. That’s not what I ended up seeing. That’s not to say Hague was bad, because he certainly wasn’t, it’s just that the fears I had, which I’ve been told by multiple high-ranking people that I shouldn’t have, didn’t go away.
The biggest among those is whether or not his skating is good enough to keep up with the elite skaters at the NHL level. The place it showed up most was in gap control. When a player would enter the zone, sometimes not even moving that quickly, far too often Hague would be more than a stick length away from him (which is a long way with his long arms and stick). Then, once he did enter, it took too long to close down that space which often led to an easy pass or on multiple occasions a dangerous shot. It’s important to note that I watched him play against the same team, on the road, three times, so there could be a gameplan piece here that I’m missing (and when speaking to Rocky Thompson about Hague he didn’t seem to have any issues with the way he was defending). However, that style won’t work in the NHL and his recovery plan (reaching out with that long stick and poking pucks away) won’t work as often against Nathan MacKinnon as it did Corey Tropp or Sam Carrick.
I still love Hague in the offensive zone and on the power play though. His instincts at the blue line are tremendous and he’s going to be a threat to do some damage when he does eventually make it to the NHL. Really looking forward to watching him play in the preseason against NHL level forwards, but at this moment, he no longer ranks as the “most likely defenseman to make the NHL roster in the Golden Knight system” on my list.
Zack Whitecloud (Undrafted, Signed as free agent, $925,000 AAV through 2019-20)
Four of a Kind (Cody Glass, Nick Suzuki, Erik Brannstrom, Nic Hague)
href=”http://sinbin.vegas/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/VGKCamp172.jpg”> It’s going to take a lot, but this year McPhee may actually consider giving a roster spot to a rookie. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)[/
The question for these four is if any of them are ready to take the next step to play in the NHL next season. George McPhee called it a long shot that any of the four make the roster, but if they are going to, the path starts now. They’d have to clearly rise above everyone else to even have a chance. Last year, Brannstrom was the most impressive, but the junior seasons of Glass, Suzuki, and Hague give hope they’ll come in and shine this week.
Whitecloud has a chance to be this year’s Alex Tuch. Last year the 21-year-old Tuch looked like a man amongst boys at Development Camp and it began his path to earning a spot on the Golden Knights roster full time. As it currently stands, there does look to be a spot open for Whitecloud to slide into, but he has to be great starting this week to get it. Whitecloud won’t be the oldest player in camp, but it needs to look like he is. He should be without question the most pro-ready player at Development Camp. By the time the week is out, making sure that is clear would go a long way to McPhee penciling him into the plans to start out next season.
Many of the players at Development Camp for the Golden Knights are not under Vegas’ control, Schuldt is the most intriguing of them all. Like Whitecloud was a year ago, Schuldt is one of the most coveted undrafted NCAA free agents and will be free to sign with any team when his next season at St. Cloud University is over. A Hobey Baker finalist, he’s an offensive-minded defenseman who was the captain of his team as a junior.
Last year at this time he was in the Montreal Canadiens Development Camp and the Habs have reportedly been keeping their eyes on Schuldt ever since. McPhee proved a year ago that he’s willing to sign a player like Schuldt and hand him an immediate roster spot right out of college. Being invited to Vegas’ camp is a good sign the Golden Knights like the player and may consider signing him when he’s eligible. However, coming to camp doesn’t always mean you have a leg up on signing the player. Zach Whitecloud was in Kings camp last year, and we all know how that worked out.
If you head out to Rookie Training Camp over the next week, you’ll notice one player skating around wearing a red jersey. No, he’s not a moving target for the players, in fact, just the opposite.
His name is Jake Leschyshyn and he tore his ACL 218 days ago while playing in a WHL game for the Regina Pats. Seven months later, the son of former NHLer Curtis is skating in Rookie Camp with the Golden Knights at City National Arena.
That red jersey indicates he’s not been cleared for contact, but according to Leschyshyn it’s just a safety precaution as he’s nearly 100% recovered from the severest of knee injuries.
I’m trying to get the power back in the first couple steps; that’s the biggest thing. Other than that I’m feeling really confident. I just have to take it one day at a time. –Jake Leschyshyn
Prior to the injury Leschyshyn was well on his way to being a first round draft pick at the 2017 Entry Draft. He ended up slipping to the last pick of the second round, where the Golden Knights used their 5th pick in the draft on the injury-risk 18-year-old.
Photo courtesy of Brandon Andreasen
But now, having seen him on the ice with the rest of the draft picks, skating, cutting, and looking like his old self, George McPhee and the Golden Knights may have selected yet another 1st rounder… in the back end of the 2nd. Add Leschyshyn to the three first round picks, and Nic Hague who many believed was a 1st rounder himself, and Vegas may have left Chicago with 5 bona fide first round talents.
Leschyshyn won’t play in the rookie games in El Segundo, but he is expected to be on the ice throughout rookie camp in his red jersey, and should be ready to go to start the 2017-18 season for the Regina Pats.
As much as we want to focus on Cody Glass, Nick Suzuki, and Nic Hague, the most intriguing prospect at camp might just be Jake Leschyshyn, and lucky for everyone in attendance, he’ll be easy to spot.
The Golden Knights had a total of 10 picks coming into the day. They traded one away for a prospect. Here’s a quick rundown of each player selected. See the three first round picks here.
Round 2 (#34) – Nic Hague – An incredibly tall defenseman from the OHL in Canada. He’s got one of the best shots of all prospects in the draft. His skating needs some work due to the fact that he grew a lot quickly. 6’6″ will put him among the tallest defensemen in the NHL. He says he models his game after Vitor Hedman and Colton Paryako.
Round 2 (#45) – TRADE – VGK trades #45 for Keegan Kolesar – The 69th pick in the 2015 draft from the Columbus Blue Jackets. He’s a tough winger who spends a lot of his team beating people up. This being said, the guy can score as well, having put up 56 goals in 118 games over the past two seasons in the WHL.
Round 2 (#62) – Jake Leschyshyn – The son of former NHLer with the Nordiques, Huuricanes, Senators, among others, Leschyshyn is a solid center. He tore his ACL in February, but he said in March that he expects to be back on the ice for training camp. Another WHL product continuing the trend of players Kelly McCrimmon knows very well.