Jiri Kulich will eventually see himself playing full-time for the Buffalo Sabres. But until then, he might just keep dominating in the AHL.
Two years ago, then-Buffalo Sabres prospects Jack Quinn and JJ Peterka enjoyed a pair of stellar seasons. Peterka led the team with 68 points in 70 games, sinking 28 goals and getting in on 40 helpers. Quinn battled injuries that year, but he still scored 61 in 45 contests, good for 26 goals, and 35 assists.
They were so good, that it was easy to see them move up the ranks and join the big club for 2022-23, and they both put together serviceable rookie seasons on what became known as the Kid Line, along with Dylan Cozens. Now, there’s another star player fans need to keep an eye on this season: Jiri Kulich, and he might just be getting started.
Sabres fans need to keep tabs on Jiri Kulich in 2023-24
With the Sabres lineup full, Kulich won’t fall right into a spot the way Quinn and Peterka did next season. During training camp in 2022, the duo were shoo-ins, especially when general manager Kevyn Adams didn’t do much in the way of signing forwards.
It’s also possible that, if the Sabres extend players like Peyton Krebs and Casey Mittelstadt, that we won’t see Kulich full-time in Buffalo until 2024-25. However, there could be a couple of spots open if Kyle Okposo, Tyson Jost, and Zemgus Girgensons (all UFAs) go elsewhere. Victor Olofsson is an afterthought at this point, and he’s not returning next season – you can chalk that one up now.
But, Kulich will face competition from Zach Benson. Regardless of what happens with Benson this season, he’s most likely a full-time Sabre in 2024-25, barring a complete meltdown in play between now and then. Matt Savoie will also provide stiff competition for Kulich, as will Lukas Rousek, Isak Rosen, perhaps Brandon Biro, and Brett Murray, just to name a few.
If Kulich keeps up his current play, which includes six points and four goals in just three contests, then he could emerge as the front-runner to be with the Sabres next year. This will be especially true if he picks up his defensive game from now until April.
(Statistics provided by theAHL.com)