ARLINGTON, V.A. — The first stop on Dru Krebs’ list when he returned to D.C. for the second time was Chipotle. There’s none of them up in Medicine Hat, his junior team that taught him quite a bit this past season. And after a burrito bowl and good night’s sleep, he made his way to MedStar Capitals Iceplex, ready to show the Washington Capitals how he grew over the last year.
It was by no means an easy road for Krebs in 2021-22. He was manning the blue line on the struggling Tigers, who finished dead last in the WHL with an 11-53-3-1 record through 68 games. Despite the record, the 19-year-old blueliner took away positives and several lessons and was able to post career numbers while taking on several roles.
“I thought it was a good learning curve last year,” Krebs said. “We weren’t as good as a team, so I think it put me in a different role. I got to be able to play every single situation, so I thought that was really good… I learned a lot from it.”
Through 66 games, Krebs dished a career-high four goals and 15 assists for 19 points. He played top-pairing minutes and also got to skate on the power play and penalty kill. He also didn’t shy away from joining the rush, battled hard for pucks and impressed with his smooth skating and reading the ice well.
‘I think a lot of it comes down to reading your options and being able to make outlet passes and moving your feet,” Krebs said of developing his game. “Kind of finding ways through those outlets to move up the ice and create offense through the defensive zone.”
Dru Krebs: “Hey, if I tie the game you should score 40 seconds later to take the lead.”
— The WHL (@TheWHL) January 16, 2022
The younger brother of Sabres prospect Peyton, Krebs said his first training camp this past fall was filled with a bit of nervousness, but several lessons. He took a lot away from watching captain Alex Ovechkin lead and also watched John Carlson and Justin Schultz closely. It not only helped him grow but also motivated him to continue working toward his NHL dream.
“I think there’s lots of things [to take away]. You just see the professionalism of all the athletes and all the players on the Washington Capitals, and you see why they’ve been such a successful team for so long,” Krebs said. Their work ethic on the ice, it really tells tales about why they’re so good for so long.
“I want to be a puck-moving defenseman. And seeing guys like Carlson, Schultz and all those guys on that team, it’s really a big influence on my own game,” he added. “I want to be able to add to my own. I think other things you see all the details here and there about how they play, and I want to add those different things.”
Part of that development also comes with improved skating. Krebs’ skating ability is something he prides himself on, especially coming from a hockey — and figure skating — family. It’ll be vital as he continues his evolution into a top puck mover. And at camp, he was able to improve in different areas thanks to the help of Wendy Marco.
“Edgework is something that I really wanted to work on throughout the summer,” Krebs said. “There’s some very challenging stuff that I fell on [at camp]. And I think you take away those things you need to really work on, especially myself. That was really fun.”
Overall, heading into his second training camp, the Okotoks native said he feels more comfortable with where his game is at. And now, it’s just about playing with confidence and showing what he’s made of.
“I think when you’re first there and even this next year, there’ll be a little bit of nerves. You’re around Ovechkin, the top goal scorer ever. But as it goes on, I want to be settled in a lot more, play my game and be more confident.”