Kraken sign first round pick Eduard Sale to entry level contract

2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Round One

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - JUNE 28: Eduard Sale speaks to the media after being selected by the Seattle Kraken with the 20th overall pick during round one of the 2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft at Bridgestone Arena on June 28, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)Photo: Jason Kempin / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

The headliner of an offensively explosive draft class, Eduard Sale is officially under contract to begin his journey to the NHL. The 18-year old left winger, picked in the first round of this year’s NHL Entry Draft, officially signed his entry level contract with the Kraken on a three-year deal worth $950,000 annually, the team announced on Sunday. 

Kraken fans got their first look at the six-foot-one forward, coming out of Czechia and playing in the country’s top professional league at 17 years of age last year, in development camp just two weeks ago where he grabbed plenty of attention with his playmaking ability, skating, and a slick backhanded breakaway goal in a camp-closing scrimmage at Kraken Community Iceplex. 

It’s apparent where he knows how his playmaking skills can be used best. 

“Making players around me better,” said Sale, during development camp, who said he prefers passing the puck first, but is open to shooting. 

“I can do both.” 

Though he is eligible to play next season in the American Hockey League, Sale’s next part of the journey is expected to embark in the major junior ranks, where he’ll join the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League and a league stage that has developed an endless list of future stardom of the NHL. Sale’s draft rights have been held by Barrie for a year, selected by the Colts in last season’s CHL Import Draft. 

“(Eduard) was one of the youngest players in Czechia’s top league last season and impressed our staff with his hockey sense and overall skillset,” said Kraken general manager Ron Francis in a team statement. 

“We’re looking forward to his continued development this season.”

Sale originally entered last season, by consensus, among potential top five names to be picked in the NHL Draft but slid to the Kraken at the 20th spot after earning just seven goals and seven assists in 43 games with HC Kometa Brno, though playing against much older and physically mature competition. The effort was still enough to grab the Extraliga Rookie of the Year, an honor historically bestowed to household names who have broken into the NHL with significant careers such as Tomas Hertl, Milan Hejduk, Martin Necas, and Tomas Plekanec. 

Maybe there’s something with that connection, between Sale and Necas. Both were drafted under Francis’ watch, with the Necas pick coming during Francis’ Carolina regime along with Robert Kron, previously a Hurricanes Europe scout and now serving as Kraken director of amateur scouting. 

Sale mentioned he looked up to Kron growing up, along with Martin Erat. 

“His speed, power, he was (ranked) one or two in strength testing overall,” said Kraken director of player development Jeff Tambellini, when asked about his outstanding attributes. 

“To have a first round pick that comes in ready off the ice, that’s where the exciting framework is – we’ll get him bigger and stronger.” 

Across several levels of competition with Team Czechia, Sale has 21 goals and 59 points in 57 career games, and was a silver medalist at last season’s World Junior Championship.   

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