When Jim Benning and his Vancouver Canuck entourage stride up to the stage at Rogers Arena on June 21, they’ll have their choice of a handful of talented prospects despite sitting at 10th overall in the first round. One of the most enticing potential selections is center Peyton Krebs of the Kootenay Ice—who received devastating news this week in the form of an achilles injury while training and a subsequent surgery that will keep him off the ice past training camp.
Hearing that projected first round pick Peyton Krebs tore his Achilles during offseason training. He could miss training camp but should be back early in the season.
— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) June 8, 2019
To be sure, many NHL teams are still interested in drafting Krebs, despite this setback—and the Canucks are reportedly one of them. Krebs may be in a walking boot, but he’s still flying into Vancouver for an additional interview—so there remains a real chance that they draft him if he’s available at 10th overall.
Draft prospect F Peyton Krebs had surgery for achilles tendon injury yesterday. Even in walking boot, I am hearing he will still fly to Van to meet with #Canucks next week for extended interview. That is a high character move by the kid, I don't think the Canucks expected that.
— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) June 8, 2019
If the Canucks do draft Krebs—and have him hobble up to the stage on crutches or in a walking cast to don his hat and jersey—they’ll be repeating the history of 35 years ago in a visually-apparent fashion.
Back in 1984, the Canucks selected defenseman JJ Daigneault at 10th overall—only to watch him hobble to the stage on crutches due to a lower-body injury suffered before the draft. The pick proved controversial, in large part because of the visual in picking an injured player—but also because Vancouver took the damaged Daigneault ahead of a few other notable prospects including Gary Roberts and Sylvain Cote.
Photo: Vancouver Sun Archives
It bears mentioning that the 1984 draft was also somewhat of a hometown affair where Daigneault is concerned—he was both born in the city and went on to play the bulk of his career there.
It’s hard to imagine that the selection of Krebs on June 21 wouldn’t also prove controversial, especially with thousands of fans on hand to watch him struggle down the Rogers Arena stairs and onto the stage while Benning and Co. awkwardly wait. That’s not to say that Krebs would be a bad choice at all, but there are sure to be at least a few similarly-skilled but uninjured prospects available at 10th overall—so expect at least a smattering of boos to erupt as the cameras patiently track Krebs’ painful progress to the podium.
With all that being said, it might not be the worst thing in the world for the Canucks’ 10th overall selection to evoke memories of JJ Daigneault—much the opposite, in fact. Despite his inauspicious start, Daigneault went on to have a great career—playing 899 games and putting up 250 points for ten different franchises.
Those may look like modest numbers, but Daigneault—who put up 27 points in 67 games as a rookie for the Canucks a few months after his notorious draft day limp—has a serious claim as the best player Vancouver has ever drafted at 10th overall. The rest of the list includes Rick Blight, Brad Ference, Luc Bourdon, and Cody Hodgson—meaning that Daigneault and 1981’s Garth Butcher are the only selections stopping discussion of a “10th overall curse” in Vancouver from erupting heading into the current draft.
In other words, if the Canucks do repeat history in drafting the hobbled Peyton Krebs at 10th overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, it won’t be cause for panic—and it might even be a reason for cautious optimism.