It’s important to impress in your rookie season with a new club, especially if you want to be seen as Mr. Reliable on defense. Filip Král earned some opportunities in his first season with the Toronto Marlies, but possibly not as much as we would’ve hoped as he slowly slipped out of the spotlight in the latter months of the year going into this season.

The Player

Filip Král reached the AHL last year after spending several seasons both in the WHL with Spokane and in the Czechia leagues. Král can be described as a bigger defender who throws his weight around at times and likes to shoot. He was second among Marlies defenders in shots behind Joe Duszak with the vast majority of his shots as rebounds or deflections rather than attempts to blast the puck by the goalie. Král likes to join the rush and has good vision in the offensive zone.

Král was drafted in the fifth round in 2018 by the Leafs, a few spots ahead of Pontus Holmberg and a Lightning goalie named Magnus Chrona. There’s no reason for me to tell you this other than to say the name Magnus Chrona.

Král spent his first full season with the Toronto Marlies last year, starting the season as the predominant first pair left shot often next to Alex Biega. In the second half of the year he got shifted to the second and third pairs, behind one or both of Carl Dahlström and Teemu Kivihalme. In this part of the season he was usually with either Kristiāns Rubīns or Mac Hollowell. All in all, Král spent 23 games on the first pair, 18 on the second pair, and 17 on the third pair in his 58 games.

Fun fact: he tied a Marlies record with three assists in a single period on Jan 10th vs Springfield in a 5-4 win. He actually had four after the first period, but one of his assists was taken away from him. Ludrious.

I think it’s very clear that Král was and is behind Kivihalme and Dahlström. I was a little disappointed that he, at the age of 22, wasn’t better able to stay higher in the lineup and force Kivihalme into a more sheltered position. I’ve watched Kivihalme for a few years and he’s decent enough in the AHL, but he’s no Calle Rosén. Kivihalme is signed in the Liiga for this season.

Král is now going to have to beat out Mikko Kokkonen, who is two years younger and was already looking good on the first pair in the few games he’s gotten with the Marlies in the last couple springs.

The left side for the Marlies is going to be a tough trio of jobs to win next season with Král competing with Kokkonen, Dahlström, and possibly one or both of Jordie Benn and Victor Mete. Personally, I don’t think Benn is going to clear waivers, and possibly Mete too, but the team will have vets and other players in the mix.

The Votes

I ended up having Král ranked the highest, which surprised me to be honest because I didn’t think I liked him that much as a prospect. He more ended up where I ranked him by default because I didn’t really see anyone else I wanted up there more. Maybe in the short hindsight I’ve had I would switch where I put Král and Kokkonen (spoilers).

Filip Král Votes

Josh - Smaht Scouting21
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Polak17
Weighted Average18.22
Highest Rank12
Lowest Rank21
Spread in Votes9

In the end, I think I see potential as a puck distributing defender with size, who can get pucks to the net, and who is competent enough in the defensive zone to play a position. That said, I said the same things about Mac Hollowell (minus the size) so Král could very easily fall into the crevice next season.

Needless to say, he will need to beat out a younger Kokkonen, and step up to try and take ice time away from the vets. If not, we could end up seeing him languishing on the third pair like Hollowell has been lately and then off to somewhere else in a couple years.

Here’s what the other voters had to say:

dhammm: Despite the way COVID has scrambled development paths for a lot of prospects, Filip Král has managed to put together another solid season and show linear progression. He likely becomes a bottom-pair defenseman; his development path resembles Travis Dermott without the fanfare, a benefit of being a 5th round pick instead of a 2nd round pick in a stacked draft. In a world ideal for his progress, Král gets into some games this season. As it stands, he needs to dramatically outplay Victor Mete and Jordie Benn for that privilege or a series of unfortunate events needs to befall the Leafs’ blueline.

Brigstew: I didn’t watch a lot of the Marlies last year, compared to prospects playing in junior, Europe, or the NCAA. But I admit I don’t really see it with Král. The Marlies seem to have a lot of just…. Meh defensemen, and Král hasn’t really distinguished himself from that group for me.

TomK421: C’mooooon future MarMarSuperstar replacement!

Katya: Please someone tell me what it is about this guy that drives the buzz? I don’t get it. He’s not even as good as Carl Dahlström.

Which pair will Král spend most of next season on?

Marlies first pair81
Second pair238
Third pair121