With the 149th overall selection in the 2018 NHL Draft, the Toronto Maple Leafs have selected left-handed Czech defenseman Filip Kral of the Spokane Chiefs.
Kral, 6’1, 185 pounds, recorded 35 points in 54 games (25 at even strength) in his rookie WHL season after being loaned to Spokane from the Czech league — good for first among Western Hockey League rookie defensemen.
Filip Kral Scouting Report
Courtesy of the 2018 NHL Draft Blackbook
Filip Kral is a Czech born, two-way defenseman who was drafted by Spokane in the 2017 CHL import draft. He fared well in his first year in North America, producing 35 points in 54 games, including 26 assists, and had zero points in five playoff games. Internationally, he played at the U20’s, where he was used in all situations and generated a goal in 7 games, while also having a stand-out performance against Russia.
Kral is an average-sized, responsible defenseman who uses fluid skating mechanics and an impressive first-pass to transition the puck up the ice. His best skating attribute is his pivoting ability and edges, which gives him both a primary or a back-up option when dealing with forecheckers. He’s an elusive defenseman who relies on his shiftiness, vision, and quick-decision making to move the puck out of danger. He can both spin off of pressure or angle his frame away from an opponent and use his reach to effectively guard the puck while surveying his options up the ice.
He’s decent at transitioning up the ice while carrying the puck but is more efficient when he looks to use his sharp and accurate passing skills that consistently landed on the tape of his teammates in most of our views. Away from the puck in the defensive end, he showed above-average positioning and impressive puck-tracking skills, which allowed him to be effective when using his stick to disrupt the play.
Furthermore, he would use his skating to block shooting lanes and was decent at keeping his opponents to the outside when they would attempt to cut. Kral’s biggest drawback in his own end at this time is his physical play. He can get overwhelmed and overmatched along the boards and at times showed a lack of engagement in front of the net.
In the offensive end, Kral demonstrated both poise and patience, gauging his passing lanes and shooting lanes consistently, which made him an efficient puck distributor. He possesses a quick wrist shot that features both precision and timing, placing it behind screens effectively in some of the games we watched him in. Although his wrist shot is more dangerous than his slapshot, he still was capable of delivering it through traffic and was good at setting it up for rebound opportunities. Despite his plus offensive skills, Kral lacks any high-end offensive attribute, and due to his average size and lack of physical play, it will be an uphill battle for him to develop into a solid NHL player at this time.
Filip Kral StatisticsDate of Birth: Oct 20, 1999
Place of Birth: Blansko, CZE
Height: 6'1" / 185 cm
Weight: 172 lbs / 78 kg
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