2022-23 Team: HC Kometa Brno (Czechia)
Date of Birth: March 10, 2005
Place of Birth: Brno, CZE
Height: 6-foot-1, Weight: 168 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: First-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 4th (EU Skaters)
- Elite Prospects: 27th
- TSN (Bob McKenzie): 12th
- Sportsnet: 10th
- The Hockey Writers (Horn): 17th
- The Hockey Writers (Baracchini): 18th
We see it every year — a player comes into the season ranked in the top-10 and his play to open up the campaign changes perspective on where he belongs when it comes to the NHL Draft. That’s the case with Eduard Šalé, who at one point was considered a top-end prospect heading into his draft year in Czechia.
While his play internationally impressed with 29 points in 29 games with Czechia’s U18 and U20 clubs, his numbers with HC Kometa Brno weren’t as eyebrow-raising as some would’ve liked — especially with the talent that is set to go in the top-10 picks of the upcoming draft. He finished the regular season with seven goals and 14 points in 43 games, staying off the scoresheet in the team’s six postseason games. Not quite what you want heading into your NHL Draft.
Still, Šalé has received praise among probable first-round picks in the 2023 NHL Draft. While consistency might be an issue right now, Šalé’s vision on the ice makes him a dangerous commodity if he can put it all together. His offensive versatility makes him a two-way threat inside the zone both as a scorer and set-up guy and while he — at times — is thinking two steps ahead of the play, these are all traits that Šalé will need to hone in on to reach his ultimate potential.
Related: 2023 NHL Draft Guide
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He has all the tools to make it as an NHL player, but without the right toolbox, these skills could go to waste if he’s not developed properly. So far, his adjustment to playing against men hasn’t been successful, but that’s not to say he won’t be able to grow his all-around game given he’s placed in the right situation. At some point he may have to choose between playmaking and scoring — making one of them his focus to ultimately define who he is as a player.
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Eduard Šalé – NHL Draft Projection
At one point heading into the season, Šalé was being discussed among the top-10. Heck, some even had him pushing for a spot just outside the top-five. But inconsistency and the growth of others around him have pushed him back to a mid first-round pick. Some have him still in the 15 to 17 range, while others have him closing out right now in the 21 to 22 range. That said, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to see him go as high as 15 in the draft. Every team sees these players differently after all.
“Eduard possesses every single skill attribute that allows a player to impact a game in a significant way. He’s fast, quick, and agile when he needs to be. He’s got a brain that is advanced. He is two or three steps ahead. He’s so good at carving out space for himself and knowing how to take advantage of space, and making opponents think they have him under wraps.” — Craig Button on TSN
“He has got everything you would wish in a potential top-10 pick. He is a very good skater, plays with speed and has very good puck skills. He is a dual-threat every time he has the puck in the offensive zone.” — FC Hockey’s scout Miroslav Simurka
- On-ice vision
- Two-way offensive threat
- Hockey IQ
Under Construction – Improvements to Make
- Play away from the puck
- Overall size and strength
Šalé has all the makings of a player that can crack the NHL within a couple years of being drafted. A younger league, there’s no reason he can’t take advantage of the growing trend. That said, this jack-of-all-trades has had a hard time putting all the skills together at once during his first year in the senior circuit and that could knock his confidence a little going into his draft. Still, there’s no reason to believe he can’t become a middle-six at some point down the road. He simply has to define his game and hone in on the skills he wants to master.
Risk — 3/5, Reward — 3.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense — 8/10, Defense — 6/10
Awards and Achievements
- Czech Extraliga Rookie of the Year (2023)
- U18 WJC Top 3 Player on the Team (2022, 2023)
- U20 WJC Silver Medal (2023)