NHL Draft Preview: Filip Kral
Filip Kral made the trip across the Atlantic and had breakout rookie season with the Chiefs, during which he scored 35 points (9G-26A) and earned the team’s Rookie of the Year award. He made his WHL debut and earned his first assist in the same game on Oct. 13 vs. VIC. He followed that up with his first goal the next night and opened his WHL career on five-game point streak (2G-5A). In total, Kral picked up eight multi-point games throughout the season.
Internationally, he competed with his native Czech Republic at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship, helping the Czechs earn a surprising fourth place finish.
Kral is a two-way defender with a strong shot and offensive instincts. He shows good awareness and can rush the puck up the ice when necessary. His most common critique is a need to get stronger physically to adjust to the North American style of play. Kral models his game after Washington Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov.
From The Hockey Writers:
Kral’s biggest asset is his skating. He’s got great mobility and uses his acceleration (and awareness) to open up opportunities on the ice. It’s probably unfair to characterize his playing style as “European,” but he skews heavily towards the puck-moving, finesse game. He has strong awareness in the offensive and neutral zones and distributes the pucks well, particularly transitioning through the neutral zone.
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.
NHL Central Scouting (North American skaters): 54th
ISS Hockey: Outside Top 31
Future Considerations: 84th
The Hockey Writers: 86th
Kral is projected to go somewhere between the 3rd and 5th rounds.
What’s Your Prediction?
Total Votes: 33
Follow the Draft
The 2018 NHL Entry Draft will take place in Dallas on June 22 and 23. The first round will begin at 6:30 p.m. CT (4:30 p.m. PT) on Friday the 22nd, while rounds 2-7 will take place beginning at 10 a.m. CT (8 a.m. PT) on Saturday the 23rd.
TV: NBCSN (Friday; coverage begins at 4 p.m. PT) / NHL Network (Saturday; beginning at 8 a.m. PT)