Vegas Golden Knights: Another Krebs-like risk worth gambling on at the Draft

Chicoutimi Sagueneens, Hendrix Lapierre #92. (Photo by Mathieu Belanger/Getty Images)
Chicoutimi Sagueneens, Hendrix Lapierre #92. (Photo by Mathieu Belanger/Getty Images) /

There is no doubt that the Vegas Golden Knights rolled the dice when taking Peyton Krebs in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, and there is another gamble worth exploring in this year’s Draft.

Rated high on many a Draft board, Krebs found himself slipping after suffering an Achilles injury during summer workouts, eventually falling to the Vegas Golden Knights with the No. 17 overall pick at last year’s Draft.

Blessed with a perfect and deadly mix of speed, skill and smarts, Krebs has all the intangibles needed to morph into a stud in the NHL and he’s already put his injury woes behind him after tearing it up for the Winnipeg Ice in the WHL with 60 points (12 goals, 48 assists) in 38 games this year.

Many a team’s loss could be the gain of the Golden Knights.

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And that’s why General Manager Kelly McCrimmon could be tempted to pull the trigger on another risky First Round pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.

Currently ranked 27th by and, Hendrix Lapierre is an incredibly intriguing prospect to keep an eye on.

Regarded by The Hockey News as potentially the best two-way player in this year’s Draft, the center has a high ceiling and boasts an almost polished game already.

However, there is one major caveat at play here.


But, unlike Krebs who suffered just the one setback before the Draft, Lapierre’s injury history makes for ugly reading given that he has suffered one documented concussion and two other season-ravaging injuries in just an eight-month period.

That should and will scare a bevy of NHL General Managers, and it could even result in Lapierre slipping into the Second Round.

That’s good news for the Golden Knights.

Currently projected to have the No. 24 overall pick, Vegas don’t have a blue chip center at their disposal other than Cody Glass, so Lapierre should be a prospect very much on their radar.

And it is entirely feasible to predict that Lapierre could fall into the laps of the Golden Knights come the latter stages of the First Round, given that some teams will likely stay well clear as they did with Krebs.

While the Knights will need to do their homework and really study the medical reports prior to the Draft, the upside to taking a risk by selecting Lapierre really is too big to ignore.

An undisputed and bona fide First-Round talent with arguably one of the biggest ceilings of any the prospects in the Draft, Lapierre could be a player in the mould of Florida Panthers star Aleksander Barkov according to The Hockey News’ Best Case scenario.

The 6’0″ and 181 lbs left-shot lit it up for Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup with three goals and eight assists for 11 points in five games, in addition to 17 points (two goals, 15 assists) in 19 games for the Chicoutimi Sagueneens in the QMJHL this year despite missing time with injuries.

In-fact, Lapierre’s overall body of work is impressive and, after becoming the first overall pick in the 2018 QMJHL Draft, he posted 45 points (13 goals, 32 assists) in 48 games and led all first-year QMJHL players in points per game on his way to being awarded the Michel Bergeron Trophy as the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year.

The 18-year-old was also named to the All-Rookie Team and, again, his ceiling is so high that it is no surprise he was once regarded as a top-10 pick before the injuries started to scare off teams.

Boasting blistering speed, very good skating ability, able to shoot and create and possessing elite vision, coupled with high-end smarts and an insatiable appetite for the game, Lapierre will tick a lot of boxes for a lot of teams.

He will provide an offensive punch while being an elite playmaker, and his hockey IQ will help propel him to the next level.

Lapierre isn’t just one-dimensional either.

He has a physical edge to his game which allows him to hold his own in net-front battles, while he isn’t afraid to duel it out in the dirty areas.

What is really impressive is the passion Lapierre plays the game of hockey with, and whoever drafts the forward will be gaining a real student of the game who is determined to reach the top of the mountain.

Granted, there are things to work on including his shot and he is guilty of stick-handling far too much on occasion, but the positives far outweigh the negatives.

Hendrix Lapierre of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens skates prior to his QMJHL hockey game at the Videotron Center on October 11, 2019 in Quebec City.
Hendrix Lapierre of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens skates prior to his QMJHL hockey game at the Videotron Center on October 11, 2019 in Quebec City. /

But, and again, the injury history will act as red flags and the Golden Knights will need to be comfortable with Lapierre’s durability before taking him in the First Round, given how valuable a pick that high is.

However, Lapierre was cleared to return to play before COVID-19 wreaked havoc on the sports world, and the second and third injuries the prospect suffered during that eight-month period were believed to be connected to an old spinal injury, rather than more concussions as The Athletic detailed here.

Although still concerning, the outlook does appear brighter and it should give the Golden Knights some comfort should they decide that Lapierre is the guy they want.

And, when there is that much upside there, you should throw caution to the wind and roll the dice.

After all, players with a clean bill of health can turn out to be busts, so the Knights have little to lose in that sense.

We saw it at the NFL Draft just a few weeks ago when the Miami Dolphins still selected stud quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with the No. 5 overall pick, opting to focus on the upside of drafting one of the best QB’s to have emerged from College rather than focus on the negatives of the prospect’s injury history.

And that’s what the Golden Knights should do.

Next. Peyton Krebs could take the NHL by storm. dark

Although there is risk attached, there is also enormous upside when it comes to Hendrix Lapierre and he has the potential and all the weapons to suggest that he could morph into a franchise center for Vegas.

They took a calculated risk by taking Peyton Krebs in the First Round and, if Lapierre is still on the board come the No. 24 overall pick, the Vegas Golden Knights should roll the dice for the second year running.

After all, if the Golden Knights unearth the next Aleksander Barkov then it would have been a risk well worth taking.