The Seattle Kraken selected Czechia left wing Eduard Sale (pronounced “Sha-la”) with the 20th pick in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. After an incredible second season as a franchise, the team picked from one of the later slots in the first round and decided to go with the best available player in Sale.
A luxury that the better teams in the NHL are afforded; drafting premium over needs.
Sale is a player that has as high a ceiling as any player not named Bedard, but has the lowest floor out of majority of the players selected in the first round. A true boom or bust draft pick. At 6’2″ and 174 pounds, Sale is a big bodied winger, who can play both left or right. He has an incredible left-handed shot, that had him ranked #7 overall by The Hockey News, and #5 overall by NHL Central Scouting (I prefer The Hockey News, they are usually very accurate with their projections).
This kid has a great shot.
Sale is not the smoothest skater, which is probably why he dropped to the 20th spot, but his high hockey IQ and passing ability make him a steal for the Kraken at 20. ESPN likened him to St. Louis Blues left winger Kasperi Kapanen. Not a great comparison. I view him more along the likes of Vancouver Canucks winger Elias Pettersson when considering his ceiling. Exact same size, incredible shot, and top-notch hockey sense.
Sale’s floor is 4th line winger or bottom 8 forward. The Kraken took him as more of a luxury pick seeing as they have more forward depth than any other team in the league, and are absolutely loaded with scoring talent in the minors. The best part (other than the number of casual fans who will mispronounce his surname as “Sale”), is that if he pans out, they hit a homerun. If they swing and miss, they still have a boatload of forward depth. That’s what you do with the 20th pick in the draft, roll the dice on the best player available.
The Kraken have three picks in the second round (18th, 20th, 25th).
The next picks need to address blue line depth and goaltending. The Seattle defense was excellent last season, but the team is not incredibly deep down the pipeline. It would be the smart decision to add some depth and some possible replacement defenders with at least two of their three second round picks tomorrow.
The theme all of last season was goaltending (sometimes a lack thereof). If goalies Michael Hrabal, Omaha (USHL) or Carson Bjarnason, Brandon (WHL) are available with the 18th or 20th pick the Kraken should consider taking one of them. Hrabal is the top rated goalie in this years’ draft and is a big (6’6″) goalie who tracks the puck well. He is loaded with raw potential. In the right set up he could be special.
Stay tuned tomorrow for the second round.
Fear the deep!