Will Cuylle should make impact for Rangers next season

NHL: Calgary Flames at New York Rangers
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New York Rangers prospect Will Cuylle is gaining incredible experience as the Hartford Wolf Pack get set to take on the Hershey Bears in the Calder Cup Playoffs starting tonight.

The Pack have already disposed of the Springfield Thunderbirds and Providence Bruins to reach the Atlantic Division Finals. Regardless of how far they can go, the 21 year-old can use this as a springboard to making the big club next season.

“At the beginning of the year I was a little more hesitant to make a mistake,” Cuylle said in March. “I’m just trying to be more confident and make plays.”

Related: Wolf Pack vs Hershey Bears preview

Will Cuylle should make an impact next season

Will Cuylle New York Rangers
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since the Rangers traded Lias Andersson to the Los Angeles Kings in order to select Cuylle in the second-round of the 2020 Draft, he’s moved up their prospect pool. There’s no doubt that 2021 first-round pick Brennan Othmann is at the top of it, but Cuylle has certainly made a strong case for number two on that list.

In a recent interview with AHL writer Patrick Williams for Forever Blueshirts, he believes Cuylle is likely to make the team next season.

“He plays a very simple up and down game,” Williams explained. “I think that translates easier to the NHL when you don’t add too much complication to your game. He’s a great candidate to play for the Rangers with a great shot at camp to make the team.”

This season, Cuylle recorded 25 goals, 20 assists, for 45 points in 69 games with the Pack as a rookie. An impressive campaign, but one that was likely aided by his brief stint of 18 matches in the AHL during the COVID shortened season.

“In his case, he’s leaned on the time as an 18 year-old when he came in during the shortened AHL season to get a taste to understand what the pro game would be like,” Willams noted.

Aside from Cuylle’s clear ability to score, Willams pointed out how he plays the game with an edge. That was noticeable in his brief stint with the Rangers this past season.

Prior to his call up to play against the Maple Leafs in his hometown of Toronto on January 25, the power forward earned AHL All-Star honors. New York sent him down for the NHL All-Star break after their matchup on January 27 versus the Vegas Golden Knights. He played in one game before being pulled from the AHL All-Star Classic before being recalled for two more contests versus the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks.

While he failed to record a point in four NHL games averaging just 6:58 per night, he was still noticeable with 8 hits, 1 shot and 10 penalty minutes on 2 fighting majors.

“He fought a tough guy but did really well,” former coach Gerard Gallant said. “Good for him. Willy came up and played two games which is pretty exciting… [Keegan] Kolesar is a tough kid and I had him in Vegas… Good for [Cuylle], he showed up.”

Thus far in the AHL playoffs, Cuylle is having a hard time showing up on the scoresheet with just 1 assist in 6 games. However, Williams feels that has a lot to do with the opposition game planning for him.

“He’s being keyed on every night,” Willams said. “I spoke with the Providence Bruins people a lot and he was a prime focus.”

With the Rangers having limited cap space to fill out their roster next year, Cuylle has a real chance to make an impact. Cuylle has two years remaining on his entry-level contract at a team friendly $902,500 AAV per Cap Friendly.

At this time, he’s projected as a bottom-six winger.

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore