Talented Czech hockey player Eduard Šalé was supposed to be one of the biggest stars in the upcoming NHL Draft. Over the course of the season, however, in the eyes of the scouts, he declined so much that he could not go to the line until the end of the first lap.
The number two in the repechage of Šalé.
At the start of last season, analyst and former Calgary general manager Craig Button wowed Czech fans with a prediction that winger Šalé would step onto the podium at the 2023 talent auction just after Canadian Connor Bedard.
It was a rare prediction, but even in the others, Šalé usually scored in the top ten.
In January, after the World Junior Championship, Button saw the Czech striker as the fourth best player in the repechage. Behind Bedard and fellow centers Adam Fantilli and Lee Carlsson.
In the final standings, he awarded Šalé the seventh position. And that’s the most optimistic prediction right now.
“I see him as an elite offensive end, like Jason Robertson of Dallas,” Šalé compared to the star who scored 46 goals and 109 points last NHL regular season.
“I see huge and promising potential for the future in his game,” continued the analyst, speaking to the 18-year-old Czech. “Maybe I would advise teams to be able to judge not by what they’ve seen of him lately, but by what he could be. Take Pastrnak, for example, as a player late in the first round of the draft who has become a league superstar.”
But not everyone puts Šalé on a pedestal. In fact, it’s safe to say that few people in the project attract so many opposing points of view.
Button’s Czech talent is in the top ten, but in other rankings he also appears in second, third or even fourth.
The most skeptical site is DobberProspects, with a prediction of 32nd place, which is the very end of the first round. A big difference from Button’s point of view.
When the online agenda Athleticism When asked about players in this year’s draft “who are overrated in media discourse”, Šalé’s name was mentioned several times by anonymous NHL officials and scouts.
One said of Cech: “His competitiveness is very worrying. In terms of skills, he belongs to the elite line, but with him you get the feeling that he is the kind of player you spot and after a few years you try to replace him.”
The Athletic pundit Corey Pronman criticized Šalé for not being competitive but also for his uneven performances. “That’s why it’s hard to cheer him on, he played his best hockey compared to players of the same age a year ago,” he added.
Šalé spent all of last season in the extra-league Komety Brno, where he collected 14 points (7+7) in 43 games, with limited ice time. He finished twelfth among team forwards with an ice time of 11:16. Otherwise, he represented Team 18 at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup and World Championship, and helped Team 20 to a sensational World Silver medal by recording 1+5 in seven races.
According to Pronman, he should be the 24th pick in the draft.
The authors of the Athletic compiled i special rankings, in which they ranked players based on their shooting, intelligence, and more. Šalé broke through to 11th place in potential, or yield ceiling. He went on to earn an honorable mention (out of roughly the top ten) for his shooting, recording, and skillful hands.
However, inconsistent performances and a perceived lack of competitiveness can cause him to drop in the draft. In the end, they don’t even need to be the Czech number one, because goalkeeper Michael Hrabal could also appear in the first round.
“Extreme gamer. Food geek. Internet buff. Alcohol expert. Passionate music specialist. Beeraholic. Incurable coffee fan.”