Will Cuylle impressive in New York Rangers audition, reassigned to AHL

Will Cuylle New York Rangers
Jan 27, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers left wing Will Cuylle (50) and Vegas Golden Knights right wing Keegan Kolesar (55) fight in the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Will Cuylle was impressive in his brief audition with the New York Rangers and endeared himself to the Garden Faithful with his first NHL fight in his Madison Square Garden debut.

After being challenged by Vegas’ Keegan Kolesar, the big 20 year-old prospect didn’t hesitate. He proceeded to hand the notable tough guy a loss per the site Hockey Fights thanks to some big left crosses.

“I wasn’t expecting it but I was ready,” Cuylle explained. “He just said ‘We’re gonna fight.’ So the gloves dropped and there we go.”

While the Rangers second-round pick from 2020 was accepting the Broadway Hat from Mika Zibanejad after the game, his head coach delivered some well deserved credit.

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

Rangers reassign Will Cuylle to AHL

Will Cuylle New York Rangers
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers were always going to send Cuylle back to the Harford Wolf Pack during the All-Star Break. Aside from the salary cap benefits, the youngster was selected to participate in the AHL’s All-Star Classic at Place Bell in Laval on Sunday, February 5th, and Monday, February 6th.

He earned the honors by recording 13 goals and 20 points in 39 games with the Wolf Pack, in his rookie season.

The Rangers resume play against the Calgary Flames on the day of the AHL All-Star Game. Don’t expect Cuylle to be called back up by that time. Sammy Blais is expected to complete his conditioning stint and return to big club for that match.

Whether or not the Rangers opt to give him another look this season is yet to be determined. However, it’s clear that he can play limited minutes in a fourth line role and be effective.

In his NHL debut against the Toronto Maple Leafs, he played just 5:49 of ice time and finished with a -1 rating. He did force a delay of game penalty in the third period but the Rangers eventually fell 3-2 in overtime.

Last night, the Rangers started the fourth line so that Cuylle could hear his name announced over the Garden loudspeakers. It was a very cool moment for the youngster, who played an even better 6:31, registered a shot, won a fight, and celebrated his first Rangers win as they knocked off the Golden Knights 4-1.

“First win as a Ranger,” Cullye smiled as he put on the Broadway Hat. “Feels pretty special. Thank you.”

It definitely shouldn’t be his last. Expect to see a lot of Cuylle next season with the Blueshirts.

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

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