May 27, 2024

Sale has smarts, skill to soon play in NHL with Kraken

SEATTLE — Eduard Sale became the latest high-upside skilled forward prospect in the Seattle Kraken pipeline when he was selected with the No. 20 pick in the 2023 NHL Draft.

And with the experience of his first development camp with the Kraken earlier this month, the 18-year-old has taken his initial steps with Seattle and looks to build on his strong hockey sense and offensive skill to make the NHL roster in the future.

“I think I’m a smart guy on the ice and off the ice too,” Sale said during camp. “I think I’m [a] playmaker… I think I have good hockey sense and stuff like that, and I think I can play one day in the NHL.”

Sale joins a talented group of young forwards looking to make their mark with the Kraken, including Carson Rehkopf (second round, No. 50, 2023 draft), Shane Wright (first round, No. 4, 2022 NHL Draft), Jagger Firkus (second round, No. 35, 2022 draft) and Ryker Evans (second round, No. 35, 2021 NHL Draft).

Sale could play with Barrie of the Ontario Hockey League this season.

“He’s upbeat, his skill set is very obvious,” Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said after seeing Sale on the ice for the first time. “He’s a special young player in terms of skillset.”

Sale hails from Brno, Czech Republic, the same hometown as Seattle director of amateur scouting Robert Kron. That coincidence helped create a natural connection between the two when they spoke at the NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo in June. Sale said Kron, who played 12 seasons as an NHL forward from 1990-2002, was one of his two favorite Czech players to watch growing up, along with Martin Erat, an NHL forward for 13 seasons from 2001-15. 

Hearing his name announced by Kron at the draft was a special moment for Sale and his family.

“It was amazing,” Sale said. “I didn’t sleep well; I was a little bit nervous before the draft, but after the draft, I’m very excited to be here.”

Last season, Sale (6-foot-2, 174 pounds) had 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in 43 games with HC Kometa Brno of Extraliga, the top professional league in the Czech Republic. He also helped the nation win a silver medal at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship, its first medal in the event since 2005, with six points (one goal, five assists) in seven games as a 17-year-old in an under-20 tournament. 

“It was a tough year, but after this year, I know I can play in a pro league,” he said. “I think I improved many things, and I would like to stay [at that level], and we will see what happens next season.” 

Wright played against Sale in the WJC championship game, a 3-2 overtime win by Canada on Jan. 5.

“I remember him being one of their best players,” Wright said. “I remember noticing him out there, and he had a cage on, so he was an underager, and he was still making that big of a difference at the World Junior level with guys one, two years older than him.”

Sale also had the privilege of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at the Seattle Mariners game against the Tampa Bay Rays on July 1. In fact, Sale said he had never thrown a baseball before stepping to the mound at T-Mobile Park and firing a strike right down the middle.

Though Sale hadn’t practiced throwing a baseball before, he thinks his background as a high-level tennis player may have helped him get it over the plate.  

“I was a little bit nervous before, because in Czech, we don’t have baseball too much,” Sale said. “It’s not popular there. It was my first pitch, so it was unbelievable.”

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