The Hockey Writers 2020 NHL Entry Draft Guide

Will Cuylle

2019-20 Team: Windsor Spitfires (#13)
Date of Birth: Feb. 5, 2002
Place of Birth: Toronto, ON
Ht: 6-foot-3 Wt: 204-pounds
Position: LW
Shoots: L
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2020 first-year eligible.

Rankings:

Future Considerations: 45th
NHL Central Scouting: 21st (North American Skaters)
Bob McKenzie: 43rd
Craig Button: 66th
Andrew Forbes: 60th
Larry Fisher: 78th

Drafted third overall by the Peterborough Petes in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection, Cuylle came with the reputation of being an elite sniper and one of the best offensive talents in his class. At 6-foot-3, 204 pounds, he had all the tools a team would crave, including quick hands, a hard shot, and a physical presence.

Related: THW’s 2020 NHL Draft Guide

Before his rookie season, Cuylle was traded to the Windsor Spitfires and didn’t disappoint. He posted 26 goals and 41 points in 63 games and was well on his way to being that premier offensive weapon the Spitfires wanted.

The projections followed him into early 2019-20 as NHL Central Scouting took a liking to him, giving him an A-Rating in November. That predicted him to go in the first round of the 2020 NHL Draft.

Will Cuylle Windsor Spitfires
Windsor Spitfires’ forward Will Cuylle (13) celebrating a goal. (Dave Jewell/THW)

However, Cuylle struggled to take that next step as 2019-20 went on. In a shortened 62-game season, he finished with 22 goals and 20 assists. While that was a point better than his rookie season, more was expected. On multiple occasions, he went more than eight games without a goal, and you could see the frustration build up. He used that for motivation, though.

The goals came in spurts, but Cuylle worked on his overall game, developing his play-making skills, physical game, and defending his teammates with gusto. Named the OHL Academic Player of the Month in January, he has the smarts to go with the talent. Rounding out his game can will benefit him down the road. Finishing the season with five points in five games also created a building block for 2020-21.

Cuylle hasn’t yet blossomed as anticipated, but he has untapped potential, including the size, the shot, and the smarts to be a valuable power forward in the NHL. It’s just a matter of bringing the production every game. He could be a real sleeper down the road.

Other THW Draft Profiles:

Will Cuylle- NHL Draft Projection:

Players with size, an NHL shot, and who bring a physical presence to every shift don’t grow on trees. The question is whether or not he can find that game-to-game offensive consistency. Cuylle came to the Spitfires with all kinds of upside, and he still has room to reach that. It’s just a matter of putting everything together. He could be a good long-term investment for a team, so expect him to be selected near the end of the second round.

Quotables:

“Will Cuylle is an excellent two-way player. He doesn’t have the high-end upside but he possesses an outstanding shot when he uses it. His neutral zone defence is very strong as he is a transition stopper in the middle of the ice.” – Tony Ferrari/Dobber Prospects

“Has climbed a premium developmental ladder from minor hockey with Toronto’s famed Marlboro program. It’s now time to assert himself as a legit power forward prospect.” – Sam Cosentino/Sportsnet

“Good sized winger who plays a power game. Good skater who can generate power on his net drives and who protects the puck well through traffic. Cuylle also has a very good release on his shot and projects as a goal scorer at the next level.” – Brock Otten/OHL Prospects

Strengths:

  • Pro-shot
  • Large Frame
  • Game-to-Game Physicality
  • Hockey IQ

Under Construction (Improvements to Make):

  • Game-to-Game Offensive Consistency

NHL Potential:

When he’s on his game, Cuylle uses his frame and shot to control the play. It’ll take time to reach his potential, but there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic. If all comes together, he could be a productive top-six forward in the NHL.

Reward-Risk Analysis:

Risk – 3/5; Reward – 4/5

Fantasy Hockey Potential:

Offence – 3.5/5; Defence – 3/5

Awards/Achievements:

  • OHL Cup All-Star Team in 2017-18
  • OHL Second All-Rookie Team in 2018-19
  • Hlinka Gretzky Cup Silver Media in 2019-20

Interview/Profile Links:

Videos: