Peyton Krebs and Bowen Byram to Highlight NHL Draft Friday

Former Kootenay ICE captain Peyton Krebs at Western Financial Place at the 2018/19 WHL season opener against the Calgary Hitmen September 22, 2018. (Bradley Jones, staff)

The long-awaited NHL Draft is finally here as both Peyton Krebs and Bowen Byram, two prospects with local Cranbrook connections could hear their names called early Friday evening.

Holding the NHL Draft in Vancouver, the first round will get underway at 6:00 pm MT from Rogers Arena while the following six rounds will be completed on Saturday.

Bowen Byram, recently turning 18 years old last week, is the top-ranked defenseman, with NHL Central Scouting ranking the Cranbrook native as the second North American skater behind expected first overall pick Jack Hughes.

The Vancouver Giants defenseman put on a show in the WHL this last season, scoring 71 points (26G, 45A) in 67 games while also leading all WHL players in the playoffs with 26 points (8G, 18A) in 22 games.

Byram is anticipated to be a top-5 selection, with most experts expecting Byram to go either third overall to the Chicago Blackhawks, fourth overall to the Colorado Avalanche, or fifth overall to the Los Angeles Kings. Byram's father Shawn was drafted 80th overall by the New York Islanders in 1986, playing four games for New York and one game with Chicago during the 1991/92 season, spending the majority of his professional career in the now-defunct IHL and in Europe.

Peyton Krebs, former captain of the Kootenay Ice, now the Winnipeg Ice, is also touted as a top offensive prospect in the 2019 NHL Draft.

Krebs could see his draft stock falter, however, after recently tearing his Achilles in a training incident earlier this month, undergoing successful surgery. It's anticipated that Krebs will be back in the lineup for the Winnipeg Ice early in the season.

NHL Central Scouting ranks Krebs 10th amongst all North American skaters while other rankings have him as high as sixth.

Krebs led the Kootenay Ice with 68 points (19G, 49A) in 68 games this past WHL season.

Depending on Krebs' draft stock, and how the team views his recent Achilles injury, the local fan favourite is projected to go as high as 10th overall to the Vancouver Canucks.

Regardless of what transpires Friday, Byram and Krebs will both live out their childhood dreams when they walk across the stage at Rogers Arena, shake hands and hear the words from Commissioner Gary Bettman "welcome to the NHL".

Coverage of the first round of the NHL Draft will begin at 5:30 pm MT on Sportsnet Pacific.

Below: Peyton Krebs and Bowen Byram prior to the 2019 NHL Draft.

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