The New York Rangers announced today that they have sent forward Sammy Blais to AHL Hartford for a conditioning stint, while concurrently calling up forward prospect Will Cuylle.
Blais has struggled this season, coming off an an ACL tear last year. He has still not scored a goal as a Ranger, as he did not light the lamp in 14 games last year prior to the injury. Overall, he has five assists in 38 games this year. Granted, he’s not being counted on to be a prolific scorer, but beyond that, he simply has not been a difference maker in any noticeable way. His defensive impacts are not bad, but he does nothing to drive any type of offensive pressure, which brings him down overall.
As such, Blais has been a more frequent healthy scratch lately, especially since the addition of waiver-wire pickup Jake Leschyshyn, and the returns of Chris Kreider and Julien Gauthier to the lineup after short-term injuries.
Blais certainly seems like a candidate to be waived, but for now, for the sake of his career, hopefully a conditioning stint can help get him more fully back to his pre-injury form so he can be a more effective player — whether it’s for the Rangers or another organization down the road.
Cuylle, meanwhile, is someone who could soon lock down a depth-forward role with the Rangers. In 39 AHL games this season, the soon-to-be 21-year-old has 13 goals and seven assists. The Rangers originally drafted him 60th overall in the 2020 NHL Draft, using the pick they acquired from the Los Angeles Kings for Lias Andersson.
Head coach Gerard Gallant has already confirmed that Cuylle will be in the lineup for tomorrow night’s road game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. It should be a special NHL debut for Cuylle, who is from Toronto.
While the debut of a youngster is always exciting, it sounds as though Vitali Kravtsov or Julien Gauthier could come out of the lineup, which is...questionable.
But he's not built for a fourth line. He's built to play in a top-nine position. If we decide that's something that's going to shake down tomorrow, then we'll see. He's been fine, I wish he'd score more, I wish he'd finish more checks and stuff like that."— Mollie Walker (@MollieeWalkerr) January 24, 2023
In any event, Cuylle earning a long-term lineup spot would be a good development for the Rangers, who could still end up with some value after the failed Andersson saga.