Is a seven man defensive rotation a possibility for the Rangers?

Bobby Bevilacqua

dan girardi and ryan mcdonagh

Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh may need some rest at points during the season, and Vigneault may want to use a seven man rotation on the blue line. Photo courtesy of Bruce Bennet/Getty Images.

In baseball, some teams will opt to utilize a six man pitching rotation in order to keep the arms of their young pitchers fresh, as well as give pitchers who are recovering from injury more time to rest. The Mets used this strategy for most of the season, preserving the arms of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.

Why not apply this same idea to hockey?

The Rangers are coming off of a season that saw many of their defenders go down with injuries. Dan Boyle broke his hand. Ryan McDonagh hurt his shoulder and broke his foot. Kevin Klein broke his arm. Marc Staal and Dan Girardi both needed surgery on their ankles. And Keith Yandle sprained his shoulder in the playoffs.

It remains to be seen if any of these injuries will carry over into this season. Everyone is healthy, but there could be some nagging side effects. On top of that, this isn’t the youngest defensive corps in the league. Boyle, Klein, Staal and Girardi are all veterans that have been in the league for a while. They could use some rest every once in a while.

On top of that, Dylan McIlrath made the team out of training camp for the first time in his young career. The 23 year old, 6-foot-5 defenseman was healthy for the entire AHL season last year, and greatly improved in all aspects of his game.

Working closely with former Rangers defenseman Jeff Beukeboom, McIlrath became a much better skater, improved his decision making, has become better at making outlet passes, and remains a physical force on the team. All of that could be used in the Rangers lineup, especially in games against more physical opponents.

dylan mcilrath profile full body 9-30

AV may want to consider utilizing Dylan McIlrath in a more regular role this season. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

While he certainly deserved to make the opening night roster after a spectacular training camp, McIlrath also deserves to play and grow in the league. A rotation amongst the seven defenseman would allow him to play closer to the 30-40 game mark without needing an injury to get playing time. The more he plays, the more experience he gets to learn from.

Using a rotation will also promote healthy competition. If McIlrath plays really well when coming in, it would force guys like Kevin Klein to step up their game and play better, or risk losing their job. McIlrath would also have a chance to win a starting job, so he’ll be looking to play to the best of his ability.

Vigneault wouldn’t take guys like Ryan McDonagh and Keith Yandle out of the lineup. They’re essentially regulars, and McDonagh is the captain and best all-around defenseman, while Yandle is the best offensive player.

But with Dan Girardi blocking shots on a regular basis, with Marc Staal and Kevin Klein playing a very taxing defensive style, and with Boyle’s age, it could really benefit the Rangers to use a rotation, and make the young and physical McIlrath appear frequently in the lineup.


Posted on October 4, 2015, in In the Crease and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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