A terrific rookie season in which Rochester Americans center Jiri Kulich registered 31 total goals, including one in each of his first six playoff games, has earned the teenager a spot on the inaugural AHL Top Prospects Team for the 2022-23 campaign.
Kulich, the 28th overall pick by the Buffalo Sabres in 2022, enjoyed one of the best seasons by an 18-year-old skater in league history.
The Czech’s 24 regular-season goals led the Amerks and tied for six among AHL rookies. His 46 points tied for 11th among first-year players.
Kulich, who turned 19 on April 14, was the AHL’s youngest regular player this year. He’s just the fourth player in league history to score more than 20 goals as an 18-year-old and the first since Syracuse’s Robert Dome in 1997-98. He’s the second 18-year-old in Amerks history to hit the mark, joining Jozef Cierny, who scored 27 goals in 1992-93.
After missing the first two games of the Calder Cup Playoffs, Kulich ignited the Amerks, compiling six goals and 10 points as they rattled off seven straight wins and roared to the Eastern Conference finals.
Overall, Kulich recorded seven goals and 11 points in 12 postseason games. Those offensive totals ranked second and third, respectively, among rookies.
The Top Prospects Team – three forwards, two defensemen and one goalie – is determined by the AHL’s hockey operations department in conjunction with the league’s general managers.
To be considered, skaters must have been 22 or younger on the first day of the regular season, and have played a minimum of 36 regular-season games in the AHL this year and no more than 30 in the NHL.
The rest of the team:
– Goalie Jesper Wallstedt, Iowa Wild
– Defenseman David Jiricek, Cleveland Monsters
– Defenseman Simon Nemec, Utica Comets
– Forward Tyson Foerster, Lehigh Valley Phantoms
– Forward Lukas Reichel, Rockford IceHogs