2022-23 Team: Bili Tygri Liberec U20
Date of Birth: April 9, 2005
Place of Birth: Prostejov, Czechia
Ht: 6-foot-1 Wt: 170 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2023 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 38th (amongst European skaters)
Samuel Fiala is a name most may be unfamiliar with, but that should change in this year’s draft. He finished fourth in scoring on an underwhelming Bili Tygri Liberec team, which failed to make the Czechia U20 Playoffs. In 44 games, he collected 19 goals and nine assists for 28 points. An improvement from his previous season, he also finished second in goals on the team, three behind fellow forward Filip Kriz.
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Fiala’s biggest asset is his skating, which will have observers sitting on the edge of their seats. He’s able to accelerate quickly, reaching top speed in a matter of moments, and his sidestep gives him the mobility required to dodge opposing defenders. His balance and edgework make him a dangerous player, both with and without the puck. His ability to pivot on the backcheck opens up his two-way game to be able to switch from rushing the puck up the ice to doubling back to cover for an incoming odd-man rush.
Related: THW’s 2023 NHL Draft Guide
Fiala is more known as a two-way player, perfect for someone who plays centre. Whenever he doesn’t have the puck on his stick, he knows where to find openings and predicts where the puck will go quite well. A cerebral player, he protects the neutral zone with solid gap control and an active stick, and he’s always one of the first to be on the backcheck, aiding his defensemen any chance he can get. He excels when playing down low, especially in the corners, and is pivotal at forcing turnovers. His speed allows him to join the rush quickly, where he often looks for the simple play through passing lanes.
Development should focus on his offensive side, as Fiala contains the tools of a good secondary point producer. His wrist shot is accurate and powerful, and he possesses high intelligence to find the perfect moment to release it. Adding more weight to his 6-foot-1 frame would be more than ideal, helping him be a more imposing presence when playing on the defensive side. Turning pro and making the move to North America should help facilitate these areas of weakness, as adapting to the increase in competition and game speed will be a challenge for Fiala.
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Samuel Fiala – NHL Draft Projection
As the 38th-ranked prospect out of Europe, Fiala isn’t projected to go in the first three rounds. There are some notable teams with multiple picks in the fifth and sixth rounds that are known to dip into the European pool. That may be the time Fiala hears his name get called.
“Fiala is a right-handed center who is a very good skater and plays a reliable two-way game. He is fast, can reach high speed, and accelerates very quickly. He has also a good edgework, which helps him be deceptive with the puck with quick punch turns or faking one way with his feet and going other way. He is quick to jump into open space in offensive transition” – Miroslav Simurka, FC Hockey (from ‘Samuel Fiala Player Report – Czechia vs. Switzerland’, FC Hockey, 01/12/23).
- High top speed
- Two-way play
- Puck handling
- Defensive commitment
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Offensive awareness
Fiala’s potential of making the NHL, judging by his play throughout his Czechia U17 and U20 progression, is that of a contributing bottom-six centre. It will depend on how he translates his game to North America, which will determine how far he goes after some time in the American Hockey League.
Risk – 3/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 6/10, Defence – 8/10