Day Two of the NHL Draft is very busy. Rounds 2-7 continue at lightning speed with the two-day event concluding later tonight.
For the Rangers, that meant saying goodbye to Lias Andersson. Once billed as a key part of the future following the Derek Stepan trade that netted the seventh pick in 2017 and defenseman Tony DeAngelo, the Swedish center never established himself on Broadway. Though the lack of communication between the organization and player is why it didn’t work out.
Andersson was dealt to the Kings in exchange for the 60th pick near the end of the second round. While Andersson could eventually wind up getting a new start in Los Angeles assuming he comes over next year after playing for HV-71, the Rangers moved on by selecting forward William Cuylle. A young left wing with size going 6-3, 204 pounds, the 18-year old Cuylle has spent the past two seasons playing for the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). If anything, he’s been consistent putting up 41 points (26-15-41) in ’18-19 and 42 points (22-20-42) in ’19-20.
A player who patterns his game after Caps pest extraordinaire Tom Wilson, he sounds like another gritty North American the Rangers can use in the future. They have plenty of skill. It seems like the draft strategy by GM Jeff Gorton and Team President John Davidson is clear. After landing prize top pick Alexis Lafreniere, they’re addressing the lack of toughness that was exposed by the Hurricanes.
First, it was by trading with Calgary up to number 19 to grab defenseman Braden Schneider, who might’ve been on the Devils radar. Everything about him sounds tough. He got into a tussle with Rangers 2019 second round pick Karl Henriksson at the Under 18 World Junior Championships in 2019. In seven games, he had two goals and a helper.
Now, they’ve added Cuylle, who’s also a huge fan of Star Wars. In fact, he raved about it during an interview via Zoom conference. Funny stuff. It shows that he has some personality. Aside from that, he is a player who has a quick release. Based on the scouting report off Elite Prospects, Cuylle can put the puck in the net with a good wrist shot. He was ranked number 45 among North American skaters by semi-retired TSN analyst Bob McKenzie. McKeen’s Hockey had him rated 63rd and Craig Button number 94.
It’s always interesting to see the different opinions on a young prospect. I’ll trust McKenzie with this one. No disrespect towards Button. Interestingly, Central Scouting had Cuylle ranked 34th among NA skaters. So, opinions vary.
As for Andersson, who turns 22 next week, best of luck to him. Sometimes, it doesn’t always go as expected with your first team. I know there was a lot of pressure and high expectations due to who he was traded for and where the Rangers took him. They deserve some blame for that. Clearly, taking Andersson at number seven was a reach. Even in a draft that hasn’t produced many established players. However, they took him over Martin Necas, Nick Suzuki and Robert Thomas.
Filip Chytil went 21st to the Rangers. He’s still very much in their plans. The question is is it as a center or wing. With the team deciding to qualify Ryan Strome before today’s 5 PM EST deadline, they have options. Is it to determine what to do with Strome, who could be headed towards arbitration? Maybe. Or they could trade his rights if there’s an interested suitor. We’ll see where that goes.
In regards to who else the Blueshirts have added today, they grabbed Swedish defenseman Oliver Tarnstrom at number 92 and then went for yet another goalie in Canadian late bloomer Dylan Garand at 103. Evan Vierling was taken in the fifth round at number 127.
That’s it for now. I’ll have more on the draft later. That’ll include who got former Pens goalie Matt Murray.