With the 28th pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, the Buffalo Sabres have selected Jiri Kulich from HC Energie Karlovy Vary of Czechia
Related: 2022 NHL Draft Tracker
About Jiri Kulich
Spending most of the season with HC Energie Karlovy Vary of Czechia’s top pro league, 17-year-old Jiri Kulich proved he could hang with the big boys with 14 points in 49 games. Just for good measure, he proved that he can dominate playing against players his own age with nine goals and 11 points in six games at the U18 World Hockey Championships. The 6-foot-0, 181-pound center has all the tools to be an effective two-way player at the NHL level, with lots of room to grow as well.
THW Profile Excerpt
“In addition to his accurate shot and one-timer on the power play, Kulich has soft hands and a tremendous work ethic along the boards where he is often seen fighting tenaciously for the puck. Scouts also love the speed and pace that he generates off the rush through his skating and the fact that he rarely gives up on a play. His ability to score in a variety of ways was also something Will pointed out in a recent Scouching Report, along with his well-rounded two-way game.
“Motor, work ethic, or whatever you want to call it, Kulich has it in spades. Once he grows into his 6-foot frame and adds some muscle, he could become a dominant Swiss Army knife type of center in the NHL that is hard to defend against in every zone on the ice. Since he’s unpredictable in the way that he creates chances and scores goals, he could be a nightmare for opposing defences and goaltenders. His hockey IQ and anticipation both offensively and defensively should also serve him well in his pursuit of NHL employment, as teams are always looking for two-way centers who can make a difference in their bottom-six.”
How This Affects The Sabres’ Plans
The Sabres are evidently putting in the work to restock their prospect capital at centre after trading Jack Eichel this past season. Kulich was the third centre the Sabres drafted in the first round, following Matthew Savoie at eighth overall and Noah Ostlund at 16th overall. Kulich plays a buzzsaw style of game that will energize the team he’s playing for, and by all accounts he’s a strong two-way forward with the ability to make a difference at both ends of the ice, which is the type of player every coach wants on their team. He’s a safe bet to be a middle-six centre for the Sabres down the road.
Alex Hobson is a third year broadcasting student at Niagara College. He has been writing about sports since 2015 and has been with The Hockey Writers since October of 2020. He covers the Toronto Maple Leafs, World Juniors, and the NHL Entry Draft, and is also part of the Sticks in the 6ix Podcast, presented by THW. He also makes weekly appearances on THW’s Maple Leafs Lounge Roundtable. For interview requests or any other inquiries, you can follow Alex’s social media pages listed at the bottom of his articles like this one.