Coming in as the 58th ranked prospect in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft is Czech defenceman, Filip Kral.
The left-handed defender started the season in the Czech Republic before heading to the Spokane Chiefs where he had a good season culminating in being named their Rookie of the Year.
There are some questions about his overall upside as a prospect but he is someone who is effective at moving the puck in the right direction. We’ll dive in and take a bit deeper of a look at Filip Kral.
- Age/Birthdate: 17.91/ October 20, 1999
- Birthplace: Blansko, CZE
- Frame:6-foot-0/ 168 lbs
- Position: Defence
- Handedness: Left
- Draft Year Team: Spokane Chiefs(WHL)
- Czech U18 Champion
- Czech U18 Most Assists by Defenseman (29)
- Czech Extraliga Champion
- Hlinka Memorial Gold Medal
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Kral was selected 78th overall in the 2017 CHL Import Draft and started his season there with four games in the top division Extraliga and then three games in the second division. He then decided to make the move to the WHL and signed with the Chiefs on October 6th and made his debut for Spokane a week later. He represented the Czech Republic at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial and at the U20 World Juniors in Buffalo this season.
Adjusted Scoring (SEAL)
For the most part, Kral helped his teammates post better numbers with him on the ice than without. He saw consistent production per 60 minutes of ice time throughout the entire season and rotated pretty regularly with his partners.
Kral’s point per game pace presents a 23.6% success rate among cohorts. His four-game sample in the ExtraLiga gives a lower success rate but given the low number of games, there isn’t a lot to take away from it.
Kral is a defenceman who plays the way that the NHL has been trending.
He makes a good first pass that is usually tape to tape and isn’t putting his teammates in poor situations. The simple play is his calling card and is willing to do what needs to be done, such as take a hit from a forechecker, to make it happen. The Blansko native is good in his own zone by being smart with his stick movements, engagements, and pressure. He isn’t particularly strong at the moment, and thus doesn’t put himself in situations where that is an issue. Kral is instead active with his feet and stick to try and retrieve the puck – he then moves it quickly to his teammate for an effective zone exit. His work in the neutral zone on the retreat is his strongest attribute defensively as he does a good job preventing teams from gaining his zone with speed or with the puck.
I’ve found Kral’s mobility and agility on his feet to be good with the capacity to adjust lanes easily but he does lack a good top speed and acceleration. Overall he is an okay skater due to his edge work but needs to have better strides and technique to work on the quickness aspect of it.
— Spokane Chiefs (@spokanechiefs) March 18, 2018
The 6’0″ defender has an okay shot that has shown glimpses of packing more punch than what we see regularly. It is likely that his shot will improve as he gains more strength and technique through his development over the next couple of seasons.
Kral is an interesting player as he is ranked fairly low in many public rankings but plays the game intelligently. He does push the play in the right direction with decent skating, albeit flawed, and has some intriguing offensive capabilities. Overall, there is some debate over what his ceiling will be but he does play the game efficiently and has a skillset that teams will find desireable.
His cohorts present really good value for where the consolidated rankings have him and fall in line with where we have him listed.
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An underrated defender with very good speed who plays for Spokane in the Western Hockey League, Kral scored a key goal while manning the top pairing and leading Czech defenders with 21:48 of ice time. Kral is a mobile two-way defender who emphasizes puck management in all three zones. He’s more than willing to take a hit to complete a play, plus he’s strong enough to ward off more than one opponent in order to protect the puck while moving up ice. He absorbs hits extremely well and is tough to knock down, especially during puck retrievals, and he wins the significant majority of his puck battles. Kral played the top of the umbrella on the Czech Republic’s loaded power play, and he kept it simple knowing full well that it’s his job to augment playmakers like Zadina and Necas, not the other way around. Kral revealed a hard, accurate shot just inside the post with his blast from near the blue line that turned out to the game winner.