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A Look at Jiri Kulich

The Buffalo Sabres are trying to load up on young talent in an effort to finally end the team’s 12-year-long playoff drought. One of the franchise’s prospects that should hit the ice at KeyBank Center this upcoming season is Czech winger Jiri Kulich.

Buffalo selected Kulich as a first-round selection in last year’s NHL Draft and he signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Blue and Gold on July 15, 2022. The Sabres sent him to the Rochester Americans, where he’s had a great first season. Die By The Blade ranked him 17th in our annual “Buffalo Sabres Top 25 Under 25” series before this past season’s start.

Kulich finished the hockey year with an impressive 24 goals, 22 assists and 46 points in 62 games. The forward played so well the AHL named him to the Top Prospects Team for 2022-23. He got 11 points in 12 Calder Cup Playoff games, including seven goals. Thanks in part to his skill, the Amerks reached the Conference Finals for the first time since 2004.

Jiri Kulich also competed in the 2023 11HF World Junior Championship, where he earned a silver medal and tied for second among all Czech skaters with seven goals and two assists in seven games.

One of No. 25’s best goals in the AHL playoffs came against the Toronto Marlies on May 13. With the game scoreless midway through the first period, Kulich picked up a dropped pass from Mason Jobst and shot the puck in the net to give Rochester a 1-0 lead.

Four days later, the Amerks were playing the Marlies again. Kulich made a quick snap shot between two defenders to beat Toronto goalie Joseph Woll and put Rochester ahead 4-1.

Amerks GM Jason Karmanos pointed out that it’s unusual for a young rookie to enter the AHL and enjoy the type of high-scoring productive season Kulich’s had. “Very rare. It’s exciting. I mean for him to come into this league at his age and just even play and contribute, it’s one thing. To contribute at the level he’s contributed is truly remarkable. So we’re excited for him, for us, for his future” Karmanos said.

Sion Fawkes of SabreNoise recently speculated that Kulich could possibly take Victor Olofsson’s place, if Buffalo decides to trade Olofsson. Whether Sabres GM Kevyn Adams does decide to move on from Olofsson or not, it’s only a matter a time before Kulich wears a Buffalo Sabres jersey.