It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And it seems like every year it starts earlier and earlier. World Junior Championship season is here, and we have our first Maple Leafs prospect added to a national team camp.
Filip Kral is on the Czech squad right now. Kral was selected in the fifth round, 149th overall by the Leafs in last summer’s draft. He is in his second year with the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL, but an injury delayed the start of his season and kept him out of action for the Leafs rookie tournament games. He’s a bit of a mystery to those of us who don’t see WHL games too often.
Kral is left-shooting defender, and in 13 games so far this season, he has three goals and four assists. He had 35 points in 54 games last year. He is one of 10 defenders currently under consideration by the Czechs. There will be cuts coming between now and the naming of final rosters on December 24-25.
The WJC takes place in Vancouver/Victoria this year, and we expect some more Leafs prospects to make their national teams. How many isn’t sure yet, but barring injury, we should expect two Marlies defenders to play for Sweden.
The Finns also announced their preliminary roster today, so for prospect watchers, this one is interesting with some key 2019 draft-eligible players on the team so far, as well as the previously undrafted Linus Nyman, who continues to attract some attention.
The Czech roster
Jakub Škarek (Lahti, Finsko), Jiří Patera (Brandon, WHL), Lukáš Dostál(Kometa Brno/Třebíč).
Jakub Galvas (Olomouc), Filip Král (Spokane, WHL), Radim Šalda (Rimouski, QMJHL), Libor Zábranský (Kelowna, WHL), David Kvasnička(Plzeň/Litoměřice), Martin Hugo Haš (Tappara Tampere, Finsko), Dalimil Mikyska (Kometa Brno/Třebíč), Matyáš Zelingr (Kladno), Michael Gaspar(Mountfield HK/Litoměřice), Daniel Bukač (Niagara, OHL).
Filip Chytil (New York Rangers, NHL), Martin Nečas (Charlotte, AHL), Filip Zadina (Grand Rapids, AHL), Martin Kaut (Colorado, AHL), Jan Jeník(Liberec), Karel Plášek (Kometa Brno), Jakub Pour (Plzeň/Litoměřice), Petr Čajka (Erie, OHL), Jan Hladonik (Třinec), Jáchym Kondelík (Univ. Connecticut, NCAA), Jakub Lauko (Rouyn Noranda, QMJHL), Matěj Pekař(Barrie, OHL), Ondřej Machala (Pardubice), Ostap Safin (Halifax, QMJHL), Kryštof Hrabík (Tri-City, WHL).
The Finland Roster
Lehtinen Lassi (Lukko)
Lindberg Filip (Massachusetts NCAA)
Luukkonen Ukko-Pekka (Sudbury Wolves OHL)
Anttalainen Aleksi (Blaineville QMJHL)
Heinola Ville (Lukko)
Honka Anttoni (JYP)
Kaskinen Olli (TPS)
Kokkonen Mikko (Jukurit)
Laaksonen Oskari (Ilves)
Latvala Otto (HPK)
Riekkinen Joona (KalPa)
Thomson Lassi (Kelowna Rockets WHL)
Utunen Toni (Tappara)
Engberg Teemu (HIFK)
Heponiemi Aleksi (Kärpät)
Kakko Kaapo (TPS)
Kupari Rasmus (Kärpät)
Lundell Anton (HIFK)
Nordgren Niklas (HIFK)
Nyman Linus (Lukko)
Ranta Sampo (Minnesota NCAA)
Talvitie Aarne (Penn State NCAA)
Vainionpää Samuli (Ilves)
Virtanen Santeri (SaiPa)
Ylönen Jesse (Pelicans)