The Toronto Maple Leafs have completed some paperwork today, signing two young prospects. Filip Kral has signed a three-year entry-level contract, while Kristians Rubins has signed a two-year entry-level contract. Kral had been playing with the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL when the season was canceled, while Rubins has been part of the Toronto organization for the past two seasons playing on a minor league deal.
Kral, 20, was selected 149th overall by the Maple Leafs in 2018, after his first season in the WHL. The Czech defenseman had just recorded 35 points in 54 games as a rookie but had also represented his country many times on the international stage. Kral was part of the Czech Republic team that took home gold at the 2016 Hlinka-Gretzky tournament—a first for the country—and attended the World Juniors in both 2018 and 2019. This year, the savvy defenseman scored 49 points in 53 games and continued to show off his quick-thinking, deceptive game. Though not exceptionally talented in any one area, Kral seems to often be ahead of his opponents through sheer hockey awareness.
Rubins meanwhile is a much different story. The 22-year old Latvian defenseman went undrafted out of the WHL but is another example of the Maple Leafs deep player development program. He originally signed an ECHL contract with the Newfoundland Growlers, only to earn an AHL deal this season with the Marlies. After impressing in 47 AHL games this year, he’s now the proud owner of an NHL contract and a shot to continue climbing the Toronto organization.
With a Kelly Cup championship in his back pocket along with experience at the IIHF World Championship playing against NHL competition, Rubins will try to continue his development path all the way to the top. A left-handed defenseman that stands 6’4″ 220-lbs he may not look like many other Toronto defenders—which perhaps will give him a leg up on the competition.