My quick thoughts on a few of the 2000 and 2001 born NHL Draft Eligible Players’ performance from Sunday night.
#7 Michal Kvasnica
As the season progresses I’ve been able to notice how Kvasnica continues to adapt to the North American style of play. He is working towards the center of the ice more and more. There were multiple rebounds available, and as he recognizes where the rebounds will pop out, I expect to see him score more frequently. During the last five games, and again on Sunday, I noticed him playing the body with more regularity. As a bigger-body player he can use his size to lean on some of the younger, smaller players. Kvasnica’s ability to control the puck, along with stickhandle will translate to the next level. However, the rest of his game will need to continue to develop. He scored his third goal of the season on Sunday by using his hand-eye coordination to deflect a Jared Freadrich shot. He has now scored twice in the last four games after only once in the first 23.
#12 Reece Newkirk – “C” Rated Prospect
Newkirk showed a side I haven’t seen from him as often in his 17-year-old season. Reece was involved in a several post whistles skirmishes, one resulting in a ten-minute misconduct. He was standing up for a teammate after what appeared to be some shoving after the whistle. Not backing down from a confrontation will assist him in the next level as he tries to make an impression on future teammates. After serving his penalty he slotted back on a line with Seth Jarvis and Jaydon Dureau. One area Newkirk continues to develop is his shot. On Sunday evening he led a 3-on-2 rush up the ice using his speed to breakaway from the backchecking Kootenay players. With his head up the entire way, Newkirk realized the passing lanes were shut down and decided to shoot instead. Reece held the puck for a split second longer for Jesse Makaj to slide just far enough to his left. Newkirk then unleashed a wrist shot from the hash marks which went off the post and in. If he continues to pick spots like he did on Sunday, his shot will easily translate to the pro level.
#22 Jaydon Dureau
I’ve commented on Dureau’s backchecking mentality throughout the season, which proves this is not a mirrage in his game. For the second night in a row, Portland scored after Jaydon stripped a forward of the puck while backchecking. Dureau drives hard to the net and was rewarded on Sunday when he showed poise and patience in front of the net. He received a pass from Jake Gricius on a 2-on-1 and his initial shot was saved. Rather than flying by the net, he slowed his rate of speed to collect the rebound, and then calmly fired the puck into then vacant net. Earlier this season he would either fly by the net or he would have attempted the second shot too fast resulting in an additional save. This poise around the net will help him improve his game and see his name on score sheet more often.
#15 John Ludvig – “C” Rated prospect
Ludvig has been paired primarily with overager Jared Freadrich throughout the season. However, with the Winterhawks playing against Peyton Krebs, head coach Mike Johnston paired John with Matthew Quigley. Johnston said, “We couldn’t let him [Krebs] beat us… I played Ludvig and Quigley against him.” Ludvig is relied upon to defend the opposition’s best line. On Sunday showed he could successfully eliminate time and space from a player as dynamic as Krebs. Ludvig’s gap control and stick position broke up several centering attempts by the draft eligible forward. Ludvigs defensive awareness against a top player shows why he should hear his name called this upcoming summer. Krebs did not score 5-on-5 in large part due to Ludvig’s defensive prowess.
#19 Peyton Krebs – “A” Rated Prospect
Outside of Cody Glass, Krebs is the best player I’ve seen live in Portland through 28 WHL games this season. Trey Fix-Wolansky of Edmonton is a close second, I would enjoy seeing the two of them matchup against one another. Krebs is playing on a very young Kootenay Ice team who recently traded away two of their older, skilled players. However, Krebs makes everyone on his team better around him. He sent several area passes for his linemates to skate onto the puck; his vision is NHL ready now. Peyton on the power play was able to send a cross-ice backhand aerial pass to the far defenseman. Pairing his vision with his knowledge of the game, and where his teammates will be on the ice, he will no doubt succeed in the NHL very quickly. Perhaps the most noticeable about Krebs is his skating ability. He was smooth, fluid, and light on his edges. His edgework is pro-ready now. Peyton goes from a stop to full speed within only a couple of strides and isn’t slowed down when he carries the puck. Krebs scored a goal on the power play which no WHL goalie would have made the save. He cut down the wall with his head up and fired an NHL caliber wrist shot by Shane Farkas. Peyton’s numbers should not scare off scouts of teams looking to draft him. As the Ice get older, and players continue to improve, they will capitalize on the opportunities Krebs creates. After watching him I project him to be selected within the top 15 picks in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
I spoke with several players, Winterhawks’ head coach Mike Johnston after the game about Krebs. Peyton also provided some quotes as well:
– Brad Ginnell, who played on Peyton’s wing, described playing with such a skilled player, “He is dynamic, smart, the whole package. He drives our offense, and I’m happy to be on a line with him. You have to keep your feet moving and your stick on the ice. That guy’s vision is going to give you the puck when you least expect it, when the team least expects it. You just have to be ready, and ready to bury it.”
– Cody Glass was impressed by Krebs’ ability, “He is really good and really skilled, especially for being 17. I feel like once strength comes it will be a huge win for him. He has all the skill in the world and works hard. He has a bright future ahead of him.”
– Mike Johnson described him, “I saw their game in Seattle and he got three goals and almost willed the team to push back on Seattle almost winning the game. Krebs can do that single handedly. We know he is a game breaker and is going to be a real good NHL player and top pick this year.
– Krebs’ on what a team will get when they select him, “They are going to get a guy who works his bag off each and every night. A 200-foot player who can help on both sides of the puck.”
– I asked what Krebs wants to continue to develop in preparation for the draft along with his goals for the rest of the year, “I want to keep improving my defensive side of my game. I want to stay consistent each and every night; come prepared to play hard hockey and help get some wins for the Kootenay Ice.”