A scoring, two-way winger, Jiri Kulich has a unique combination of size, speed, and stick-handling. Originally projected to go off the board in the second round, at the earliest, Kulich’s performance at the U18 World Championships significantly boosted his draft stock.
Kulich spent last season with HC Energie Karlovy Vary of the highest-level national league, the Czech Extraliga. There, he finished with nine goals and five assists for 14 points in 49 games. In the playoffs, Kulich also chipped in a helper in a three-game sample size.
Captaining Team Czechia at the U18 Worlds, the 18-year-old racked up nine goals and 11 points in just six games, earning tournament All-Star Team, MVP, and Top 3 Player honors.
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) April 30, 2022
Kulich also was named captain of the Czechia U18 squad at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, potting three goals and four points in four games.
Corey Pronman of The Athletic has the LA Kings taking the Czech forward with the No. 19 overall pick in the 2022 NHL draft.
The Kings have a deep prospect pool and no obvious positional need due to that. Kulich is arguably the best player available at 19 per some scouts, especially following his outstanding U18 Worlds where he was named MVP of the tournament. – Corey Pronman, The Athletic
Kulich is good at creating his own shot with the puck on his stick. Without the puck, he’s terrific at putting himself in position for a great scoring chance and uses a quick release. Defensively, he’s a menace in his own zone. His relentless pressure on opposing forwards is something that Blake Lizotte would be proud of (see #25 in blue below).
The Kings have loaded up down the middle, taking centers in the first round in four of the last five drafts. Kulich would be the first left-winger drafted by Los Angeles since Samuel Fagemo in the second round of the 2019 NHL Draft.
- D.O.B – April 14, 2004
- Age – 18
- Place of Birth – Kadan, CZE
- Draft Eligibility – 2022
- Height – 6-foot-0
- Weight – 172 lbs
- Position – LW/C
- Shoots – L
Ranked #31 by CONSOLIDATED RANKING
Ranked #52 by ELITEPROSPECTS.COM
Ranked #22 by FCHOCKEY
Ranked #40 by TSN/BOB McKENZIE
Ranked #30 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY
Ranked #14 by TSN/CRAIG BUTTON
Ranked #13 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (EU Skaters)
Ranked #25 by RECRUIT SCOUTING
Ranked #37 by DRAFT PROSPECTS HOCKEY
Ranked #18 by SMAHT SCOUTING
Ranked #62 by THE PUCK AUTHORITY
“In the slot is where Jiří Kulich truly shines. He constantly thrives at netting open ice in the slot and keying up passing lanes for his forwards along the boards. Sometimes when entering into the offensive zone, if he is the F1 / the forward entering into the zone with possession of the puck, he looks to pass the puck initially to someone else via a well-timed drop pass and then shift around or the boards to the slot to establish passing lanes.” – Josh Tessler, Smaht Scouting
“No player helped or solidified their stock more than Kulich in (the U18s). He was one of those classic 25-50 guys coming in and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s picked in the teens now. He was on top of pucks. He’s sturdy. I was impressed by his positioning off the puck (always in the right spots within the structure/flow of play). He did a good job taking pucks off the wall to the inside. And then he pounded one-timer after one-timer into the net on a Czech power play that looked unstoppable until the bronze medal game. Love his drive. Good skater. Quick release. Hard shot. Some creativity in possession. Soft hands. Broke a couple ankles. Great feel around the net.” – Scott Wheeler, The Athletic
“Kulich’s puck protection abilities have also stood out. He isn’t the most precise handler in the draft; the puck has a tendency to escape him when he tries to dangle through neutral zone defences at full speed. Learning to work both his feet and hands at the same time and independently will be a development goal for him. That said, if he gets a step on a defender — good luck catching him. Not only is he faster than most, but his combination of coordination, strength, and balance allows him to absorb and escape defenders pressuring his back” – David St-Louis, EP Rinkside