Once considered a surefire top-five pick in the 2023 NHL draft, Eduard Sale (pronounced “Shah-lah” has handled his fair share of adversity this season. The Czech teenage superstar is next on our series of 2023 draft profiles.
Sale is widely considered to have NHL top-line upside, exactly the type of prospect who will be selected in the top half of the first round in July. He has played in the top league in Czechia for two seasons already, and was a prominent fixture on Czechia’s international teams for the U-18s both this year and last.
Who is Eduard Sale?
|Eduard Sale||RW||Left||6’2″||174 lbs|
Sale is a left-shot right winger with good size and plenty of room to fill out his frame. He has been consistently ranked as a top-10 pick this season, however he has seen his draft stock fall from consensus top-five pick to now a top-15 pick. He is also ranked as low as 27th by Elite Prospects and 19th by Dobber after a tougher draft year than many expected. Still, Sale is a high-end player and will be a high selection in the 2023 draft.
Eduard Sale’s on-ice production
|2021–22||D-1||HC Kometa Brno U20||Czechia U20||39||42||47||89|
|HC Kometa Brno||Czechia||10||2||1||3|
|Czechia U18 (all)||International-Jr||28||7||23||30|
|2022–23||D+0||HC Kometa Brno||Czechia||43||7||7||14|
|Czechia U18 (all)||International-Jr||11||7||3||10|
|Czechia U18 “A”||WJC-18||5||4||2||6|
|Czechia U20 (all)||International-Jr||11||3||7||10|
Sale made waves in the 2021–22 season playing in Czechia’s U20 league. He amassed an insane 42 goals and 89 points in just 39 games as a 17-year-old, earning a promotion to Czechia’s top men’s league. He put up two goals and three points in 10 games playing against men for the first time. He also represented Czechia at the U18s as an under-ager, putting up nine points in six games.
This past season, Sale suited up for an impressive 43 games in the Czech league, scoring seven goals and 14 points. He represented Czechia at the U18s again with a decent showing, but more impressively he played for Czechia’s U20 squad at the World Juniors and put up six points in seven games as an 18-year-old.
Eduard Sale’s strengths
Don’t let his numbers fool you—Sale is a dynamic offensive player. TSN’s Craig Button likens Sale’s season to that of David Pastrnak in his draft year. Teams hesitated on Pastrnak due to his numbers in his draft year, but has become a 60-goal scorer and one of the best players in the world. Sale has shown off his scoring at the World Juniors and U18s, and his toolkit is suited for success in the NHL.
Not only does Sale possess one of the most accurate shots in the entire draft, his shot is extremely deceptive. He has a unique ability to change his hand position to release the puck from a variety of angles and positions, something that makes goaltenders go nuts.
But, Sale is actually a more skilled playmaker than shooter, able to use his high hockey IQ to identify opportunities and send passes to his teammates with his soft hands. This dual-threat makes Sale invaluable on the power play, an area NHL teams are always looking to improve on (unless you’re the Edmonton Oilers).
Sale has grown one inch and put on six pounds since the start of the season, and he has more room to grow as well. He uses his body extremely well which is one of the reasons he has been able to play well against men in Czechia. He is not afraid to mix it up in the corners, retrieving pucks on the forecheck, and will regularly drive the net on the wing. Sale works incredibly hard and battles hard for every puck, a translatable skill that NHL scouts look for.
One of the first things that scouts point out when discussing Sale’s skillset is his skating ability. He has excellent top speed and his stride is technically very refined. His acceleration isn’t elite by any means, but working with an NHL power skating coach could turn Sale into a top-end skater at the highest level.
One area he can definitely improve on is his ability to make plays at top speed. Sale has excellent vision and is a two-way threat in the offensive zone, but he does take his time to scan the ice and evaluate his options which, in isolation, is actually a very good attribute, but executing plays at top speed is an NHL skill he will need to work on.
Eduard Sale’s areas of improvement
This is almost definitely due to playing in the highest league in his country, but Sale can work on his in-game confidence. There were times this season when he was hesitant with the puck and held onto it a bit too long. Patience is a great quality, but not at the expense of opportunities that only present themselves for a short amount of time when the game is moving so fast.
Confidence is something that will inevitably come as Sale becomes more comfortable in the Czech league, but it is still something he needs to work on. When he makes the jump to the NHL, he needs to know how to respond to the speed and skill of his opponents.
On the defensive side of the game, Sale’s play is described as “average at best”. He’s not a dynamic two-way player, and that’s okay, but it’s worth noting that he isn’t very good at exiting his own zone with possession, and does have work to do in his own zone.
Eduard Sale’s comparables
One of the comparables for Sale this season is the Minnesota Wild’s Matt Boldy. Very well-rounded and can impact the game in many ways up front, but not a high-end guy. Some have also likened his game to Taylor Hall, though with lesser finishing ability.
Fit with the Flames
Because Sale has seen his draft stock fall this season, he is definitely a player who could fall to Calgary at 16th. Many are projecting Sale to go around 10th, but there equal projections of him falling to the 15–20 range as well. An offence-first winger with strong shooting and even stronger playmaking could be exactly the type of player Calgary needs in the next two or three years.
Sale might not end up on a top line in the NHL, but he likely has a floor of high-end middle-six winger that can be a power play specialist. With the size to play all over the lineup, Sale offers a unique blend of attributes that any team would like to have in their prospect pool.
Sale is a phsical offence-first winger with a strong shot and even stronger playmaking ability. He has a ton of room to grow and has proven to be among the top tier of his peers in head-to-head competition this season.
Projection: Top-six winger
All TWC 2023 NHL Draft Profiles
Check out more of our individual player profiles of selected 2023 NHL Draft prospects:
Connor Bedard | Matvei Michkov | Adam Fantilli | Leo Carlsson | Zach Benson | Andrew Cristall | Oliver Moore | Will Smith | Ryan Leonard | Eduard Sale | Colby Barlow | Axel Sandin Pellikka | Dalibor Dvorsky | Brayden Yager | David Reinbacher | Nate Danielson | Riley Heidt | Matthew Wood | Quentin Musty | Mikhail Gulyayev | Calum Ritchie | Gabe Perrault | Jayden Perron | Ethan Gauthier | Dmitri Simashev | Samuel Honzek | Lukas Dragicevic | William Whitelaw
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