Rangers rookie proving to be among the team’s most valuable players

New York Rangers left wing Will Cuylle (50) skates against the Carolina Hurricanes during the first period at Madison Square Garden
Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into the season, the New York Rangers were looking for a young, cost-controlled forward for their bottom six. After coming off a 45-point (25 goals and 20 assists), along with an All-Star Game appearance for the Hartford Wolf Pack, the Rangers coaching staff had to look no further than Will Cuylle.

His stellar performance during the pre-season earned him the last spot on the roster. Through his first 53 games, Cuylle has shown how important his physicality and depth scoring is to the team.

Conductor Cuylle lays the boom

Standing in at 6-foot-3 and weighing 210 pounds, Cuylle isn’t shy to throw his body around on the ice. Instead, he welcomes the opportunity.

The 22-year-old’s 169 hits on the season rank fifth league-wide and first amongst his fellow rookies.

Cuylle has 62 more hits than the next Ranger forward, Vincent Trocheck with 107. Trocheck is closer to 11th on the Rangers (Lafrenière; 52) than he is to Cuylle.

Cuylle’s physicality brings strength to an area of the games in which the Rangers have been lacking for quite some time. While they have guys like defensemen Jacob Trouba and Ryan Lindgren to set up and make big hits, the forwards haven’t been as willing, making Cuylle’s physicality even more important.

Cuylle brings much-needed depth scoring to the Rangers

While the rookie left winger only has 16 points (nine goals and seven assists) on the season, Cuylle is able to use his strength to get into greasy areas to create and score goals (another aspect of the game the Rangers have lacked).

In January 21st’s win over the Anaheim Ducks, Cuylle tied the game with a greasy goal. After playing through a check from Ducks defenseman Jackson Lacombe, Cuylle skates right in front of Lukas Dostal to deflect a Jacob Trouba shot. Because of Cuylle’s size and strength, he was able to park himself in front of Dostal making himself available for Trouba.

In Monday night’s 2-0 win over the Calgary Flames, he again used his strength to score a greasy goal. Off a Kaapo Kakko shot, Cuylle kept jamming at Jacob Markstrom’s pads until the puck squiggled past the goal line.

Like Jonny Lazarus said, the Rangers need to be hungrier around the net. Recently, Cuylle has done exactly that and the team is back to winning games. Cuylle’s importance to the lineup cannot be overstated.

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