Draft season is always an exciting time, and fans of the Philadelphia Flyers will have lots of reasons to be excited for the 2023 NHL Draft. Diehard fans get really excited to see who their favorite teams will be selecting to be a part of their team’s future, and with the seventh overall pick, the Flyers have the opportunity to select someone who could impact the team in a big way – that someone is not Eduard Sale.
When you draft inside the top-ten, as the Philadelphia Flyers are going to do, there will always be the temptation to pick a player whose stock began to rise late. We saw this with the Eagles in the 1990s when the they picked Mike Mamula. And, while Mamula wasn’t a bad player, he certainly wasn’t worth the seventh overall pick in 1995. Likewise, there is a player who could be tempting for the Flyers, but the team should avoid.
Eduard Sale is a Czech forward who has many translatable skills in his locker. Before the 2022-23 season began, Sale was projected as a top-ten pick, and some slotted the winger as high as the top-five. Now, Sale is generally projected around or even well outside of the top-ten, depending on the mock draft and the person ranking him. What happened between then and now?
In 2018-19, Eduard Sale scored 21 goals in 33 games as part of HC Kometa Brno U16 in the Czech U16 League. The following year, he put up 27 goals in 39 games for the U17’s. Those numbers were really good at the time, and began to catch the attention of NHL scouts. In 2020-21, in the U20 League, he scored 42 goals and tallied 49 assists in 39 games. This past year, playing for HC Kometa Brno’s men’s team, he scored just seven goals in 42 contests. Then, Sale turned around and scored 11 goals and 18 games for Czechia in the U18 Junior International Tournament. The sharp contrast goes to show how rough a transition the men’s game has been for Sale. This season has really doused Sale’s stock, but The Hockey Writers suggest not all hope is lost:
"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.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."
Eduard Sale is praised for being a fast player with good hockey sense, vision, and IQ, however, his size, at just 6’1″, 168 pounds, leaves something to be desired. Sale’s play on the ice in general has shown some inconsistencies, leading some to question his motivation. Lastly, most scouts think he will need at least 2-3 years to develop further.
In that, Eduard Sale’s closest comparison might be Alexander Daigle. Daigle had a lot of the requisite skills to be a great player, but could never quite put it all together. As a result, he is cemented as one of the greatest draft busts in NHL history. Likewise, the San Jose Sharks drafted Pat Falloon with the second-overall pick in 1991. And, while Falloon was a decent player, he was never great. Falloon would be traded to the Philadelphia Flyers, and play parts of three seasons before being traded to Ottawa for, of all players, Daigle.
Eduard Sale could end up becoming a star player in the NHL. He could end up being a bust. Right now, the Flyers need a player who will either soon be NHL ready or pretty close to it. What they don’t need is an inconsistent player who is essentially a 50/50 dart throw. If motivation is a factor in his game, the Flyers can’t afford to select him, especially with so many other players in the draft this year who could be impactful players relatively soon. Sale is not trending in that direction and should be avoided by Philadelphia and Daniel Briere at all costs.