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Penguins Sign Big Czech Free Agent D-man with Dubas Connection

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Pittsburgh Penguins free agent signing, Filip Kral

Moments after announcing the organization signed emerging NHL regular defenseman Jack St. Ivany to a three-year deal, the Pittsburgh Penguins signed Czechian free agent D-man Filip Kral to a one-year deal.

The contract carries a salary cap hit of $775,000 at the NHL level, though the Penguins did not immediately specify whether it had a two-way provision.

The defenseman has direct connections to Penguins president of hockey operations/GM Kyle Dubas, as the Toronto Maple Leafs drafted Kral, 24, in the fifth round of the 2018 NHL Draft (149th overall). The 6-foot-2, 198-pound defenseman played parts of three seasons with the Toronto organization from 2020-23. He made his NHL debut on Oct. 9, 2022, and played two NHL games that season.

Over three seasons, he played in 92 AHL games with the Toronto Marlies from the end of the 2020-21 season through 2022-23. Kral scored seven goals with 22 assists in those AHL games.

Dubas became the Toronto GM following the 2017-18 season, and Kral was part of Dubas’s first Toronto draft class. Dubas took over the Penguins hockey operations on June 1, 2023.

Kral played last season with the Lahti Pelicans of the Finnish Elite League (SM-liiga). He scored five goals, 32 assists, and 37 points in 46 games, leading Pelicans defensemen in assists and points. Kral also led the league with a plus-28 rating.

Prior to being drafted, Kral played three seasons with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs (2017-2020) and parts of three seasons with the highest Czechian league (2016-2018 and the 2020-21 season). He represented Czechia at the 2018 and 2019 World Junior Championships.