Why this Rangers prospect now has the highest chance of making the NHL roster

New York Rangers left wing Will Cuylle (50) skates up ice against the Calgary Flames during the third period at Madison Square Garden
Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Now two games into the 2023-24 NHL preseason, the New York Rangers are beginning to make final decisions on what the opening night roster will look like on October 12th. There aren’t many spots left open on the current Rangers team, setting a difficult standard for any prospect to break the mold into the NHL.

There was the possibility of young rookies such as Brennan Othmann or Matthew Robertson potentially making a case for the Rangers, but those chances are now practically gone. With the Rangers starting to make roster cuts, only time will tell who will remain. If any prospect has the ability to make it to the big leagues now, it is Will Cuylle.

Cuylle has practiced with some of the Rangers’ regulars

Of all the prospects remaining in training camp, Cuylle is the only player who has received consistent playing time with the Rangers’ top guys. In Monday’s practice, the young prospect was slotted alongside Vincent Trocheck and Blake Wheeler. This opportunity came from performing well throughout every practice thus far and is a good sign for Cuylle’s future.

Simply practicing with the Blueshirts’ regulars alone is no indication that an NHL roster spot is waiting for Cuylle in the regular season, but it’s more than any other prospect has gotten so far. He’ll need to continue to impress HC Peter Laviolette to keep receiving this ice time and work his way towards the Rangers.

The Rangers have called Cuylle up in the past

At 21 years old, Cuylle already has four NHL games under his belt. He went scoreless throughout all of these contests, but the important note is that the past has proven that the Rangers are willing to rely on Cuylle if they need to call someone up from the Hartford Wolfpack.

The debate about bringing Cuylle up to the NHL or not is about which option would be best for his development. He’s still very young, having only been drafted in the second round of 2020. If he were to earn a full-time spot on the Blueshirts, it wouldn’t be anything more than a third or fourth-line role. In turn, if Cuylle were to remain a member of the Wolfpack, he would be receiving a high level of minutes in the team’s top six.

“Cuylle proved he was more than just a bruiser, leading the Wolf Pack with 25 goals in 69 games played while being selected as an AHL all-star. Eighteen of those goals came after Christmas, with Hartford coach Kris Knoblauch referring to the Toronto native as one of his most improved players.”

via Vincent Z. Mercogliano of Lohud

Should the Rangers include any prospects early on in the season?

At this point, there doesn’t seem to be a need for any rookies to make their way up to the NHL just yet. Unless Cuylle explodes with an undeniably elite performance to force the Rangers’ hand, it’s for the best that he continues to develop down in the NHL.

Rangers GM Chris Drury spent the majority of the off-season signing veteran forwards to fill the bottom six, leaving little space for anyone to earn a proper role. Cuylle is the type of player that would thrive in a potential third-line grinder role, but it’s likely that will come just a few years down the road.

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