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Rangers recall Will Cuylle and Sammy Blais, what's the impact?

February 6, 2023, 1:26 AM ET [692 Comments]
Jan Levine
New York Rangers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Rangers, after more than a week off, returned to practice Sunday. Igor Shesterkin, Artemi Panarin and Adam Fox all participated in the All-Star events and game to varying degrees of success. The most important thing coming out of the weekend is none of them were hurt.

New York has an interesting upcoming schedule, facing Calgary (Monday), Vancouver (Wednesday) and Seattle (Friday) at home before playing in Carolina on Saturday. After that contest, the Blueshirts have three days off before kicking off their annual Western Canada trip with three contests in four days. We sit less than a month away from the trade deadline, which is the second material topic besides the 13 games until that point.

Will Cuylle, scratched from the Wolfpack's last game and from the AHL All-Star Game and festivities, was called back up today. In addition, just to add to the intrigue and create more questions than answers, Sammy Blais was recalled following a two-week conditioning stint in the minors. Blais played five games with the Wolfpack, scoring four times, including a pair of goals Friday.

The Blueshirts now have 23 players on the active lineup with both players recalled. Part of the goal with getting down to 22 players a few weeks ago was to accrue additional cap space. As of now, the team has blown that shot with the recall of both players, though moves still might occur prior to game time.

Based on coach Gerard Gallant's comments, Cuylle sure looks like he will be in the lineup tomorrow. My guess is he will be back on the fourth line, as he was during his two games in New York. Two weeks is likely the length of time allowed for a conditioning stint, which is why Blais was called back up. Given how he played in the minors and the desire to see if he has regained his speed and could be a viable part of the lineup or at least a trade chip, I expect Blais to play. For who remains to be seen.

If both Blais and Cuylle remain beyond tomorrow or this week, that could mean a few things. First, New York may plan to add around the edges rather than go for a big splash, which to me makes little sense. Not because I think a big splash will be made, but why not afford yourself the opportunity to do so by creating the requisite cap space. Second, a waiver or trade is in the offering. To me, that would mean placing Jake Leschyshyn on waivers, since Blais and Cuylle could be bottom-six options and you already have Vitali Kravtsov sitting in the press box. For that to occur, Barclay Goodrow would need to be the 4C, and Gallant seems to like the newly constituted third line with Goodrow on the wing.

Third, GM Chris Drury could try and deal Kratvsov, though I think that is a move that occurs closer to the deadline. Fourth, Julien Gauthier might be at risk, as his ice time has dried up. If that move did occur, I would suspect Drury would try and deal Gauthier rather than try and pass him through, as the expectation is he would be claimed. Fifth, Libor Hajek is likely safe, since if he was placed on waivers, the Rangers would still need to promote a seventh d-man in case of injury for next week's West Coast trip, thereby resulting in only a week's worth of additional cap space accrued.

Stay tuned. Something hopefully is and should be brewing. What that is remains to be seen.

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