Buffalo Sabres prospect Jiri Kulich was one of the best players in the AHL, and he has an outside chance to snag a spot in the NHL this season.
One notable writer over at The Athletic had nothing but remarkable things to say about Buffalo Sabres prospect Jiri Kulich. Allan Mitchell outlined five of professional hockey’s best prospects yet to play in the NHL, and they listed Kulich in that group along with Simon Nemec, Alexander Nikishin, Ilya Safonov, and Hardy Haman Aktell, the latter of whom will be teammates of Noah Ostlund over on Vaxjo this year.
"“He flourished in his draft-plus-one season and is poised to have an immediate impact when recalled by the Sabres. His 15 even-strength goals give an idea of what kind of scorer he’ll become in the future.” – Allan Mitchell, via The Athletic"
They keyword: When. I’ve seen some claim Kulich isn’t NHL-ready, but most were singing a different tune until the Rochester Americans lost in the Conference Finals to the Hershey Bears, a series when Kulich and basically the entire team took a nosedive.
Listen, I’m not judging Kulich’s NHL readiness based on one measly playoff series. It’s the equivalent to claiming an NFL prospect shouldn’t be drafted in the first round because they looked bad in a collegiate Bowl Game.
Jiri Kulich could easily debut with the Buffalo Sabres in 2023-24
Injuries occur, and Jack Quinn is already out for a few months while he rehabs an Achilles injury. Whether a prospect like Kulich, Lukas Rousek, or even Matt Savoie ends up with the job remains to be seen, but it would be nothing short of a miracle if the rest of the Sabres made it through the first half of the season completely unscathed.
Enter Kulich, who will either be the first or second recall this season if someone goes down with an injury and misses time. That said, it’s inevitable that Kulich makes his NHL debut in 2023-24, even if he’s only there for a handful of games or a simple one-off.
And finally, even if the Blue and Gold get through the first half of the season unscathed, there is still the possibility that they eventually trade Victor Olofsson before the deadline. If they send Olofsson elsewhere for either a blueliner or a goaltender, then Kulich once more can find himself as the next man up if they don’t already have a means to replace the winger.