Perhaps the most criticized Rangers draft pick in recent history, Dylan McIlrath, is in a bit of an odd situation in his career. He is 23 years old, and has just finished up his fourth season in the AHL in Hartford. This year, he turned heads after Christmas, really playing well and taking on some tough minutes in the team’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals.
But now is not a good time to be a defensive prospect down with the Wolf Pack. There is currently a logjam of talented, reliable defensemen with the NHL, and practically no chance for someone like McIlrath to finally break in with the big club. There are also four right-handed shots on the blue line, which makes his chance of breaking into the NHL even smaller.
There’s even more of a concern about this because Gorton re-signed him to a one-year, one way contract. If McIlrath doesn’t make the team out of training camp, or after the pre-season, he would need to clear waivers in order to re-join the Wolf Pack. Any of the other 29 teams can claim his services off of waivers. Read the rest of this entry
Shortly after signing Oscar Lindberg and Emerson Etem to deals, New York Rangers GM Jeff Gorton announced that the team had signed RFA defenseman Dylan McIlrath. The deal is for just one season with a cap hit of $600k.
Like Oscar Lindberg, McIlrath will need to clear waivers this year, so this is the year that he needs to prove himself to the Rangers management.
McIlrath is the highly criticized first round pick from the 2010 draft, mainly due to who the Rangers passed up on (Cam Fowler, Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko, Nick Bjugstad). McIlrath showed improvement in his first fully healthy season since 2011-12. But he is yet to crack the Rangers roster, and needs to work on his game more.
At the age of 23, McIlrath needs to make an NHL roster soon, or he may find himself a career AHL player. Unfortunately, the Rangers have an absurd amount of depth on the blue line, as well as another top defensive prospect in Brady Skjei.
The Rangers need to create cap space, and the easiest way to do so is by trading a defenseman, but I really doubt that will happen. Nonetheless, McIlrath needs to prove to Rangers management this year that he is capable of being an NHL defenseman, or he may find himself stuck in the AHL or on another team.
This past season with Hartford was probably the biggest jump in progress that McIlrath has ever made, and perhaps his best season as a professional. Jeff Beukeboom, assistant coach for the Wolf Pack and long-time Rangers defenseman, served as his mentor throughout the season. And it really showed.
Beukeboom was known as a fierce hitter and physical force in his days, but also as a reliable defenseman. And slowly but surely, McIlrath is starting to take on that same form. He’s still an intimidating presence on the ice, with the ability to throw crushing hits and clear the front of the net, but he’s developed the more central aspects of his game.
The biggest improvement this year was in his skating. Beukeboom said that at times, McIlrath would fall and have his feet slip out from under him.
When discussing the steps taken for his development, Beukeboom said, “we had a great skating coach here and we came up with a game plan and did stuff with his skates that I did as far as balance and not only that, Dylan has worked really hard and consistently working on his skill set and everything, his skating and it’s the first season that he stayed healthy. It all came together at the right time for him.” (SNYRangers)
From December, McIlrath showed big strides, shouldering heavy minutes and tough assignments in the AHL. He played very well in the playoffs, a plus player in every series, and playing well defensively. He finished with 17 points (6-11-17) in the regular season, adding two assists in the playoffs.
Personally, I would trade a defensemen and make room for Brady Skjei, or in this case, Dylan McIlrath on the roster. The team needs more cap space to sign their core players and continue to add depth players, and investing so much money on defense and in net has really handcuffed the team. It’s time to start trusting these young defensemen and giving them NHL time.
It’s now or never, make or break for first round draft pick Dylan McIlrath.
It didn’t take long for the Rangers to find their new backup goalie, trading for Antti Raanta from the Chicago Blackhawks, and sending prospect Ryan Haggerty their way.
Rangers fans should be familiar with Ryan Haggerty, as he has been around the team’s training camp and preseason games for quite some time now. He played his first season in the AHL, finishing with 33 points (15-18-33) in 76 regular season games. He never really did enough to stand out amongst the other prospects, and the Rangers didn’t have any room for him on the NHL roster. Haggerty will surely get a chance to compete for a spot on the Blackhawks roster, mainly because they are looking for cheap, effective forwards.
Antti Raanta was the third goalie for Chicago, behind Scott Darling and Corey Crawford on the roster. But it wasn’t because of his skill. The cap-strapped Blackhawks went with the cheaper, and solid option in Darling for the second half of the regular season and the playoffs. Read the rest of this entry
It was a busy day in the NHL today, with the league agreeing on a new salary cap, and trade rumors surrounding Cam Talbot coming to a head, with an actual offer being made to the Rangers.
This afternoon, Darren Dreger reported that a team (not specified) offered Glen Sather two second round picks for Cam Talbot, which he turned down. Sather realizes that Talbot is the most coveted goalie on the market, and wants to maximize his return.
Peter Chiarelli, the new GM of the Edmonton Oilers, would disagree. This afternoon, he said that the market for goaltenders is actually a buyer’s market. Read the rest of this entry
The Rangers are currently in a bit of a cap crunch. As of right now, the Rangers have $59.5 million tied up in 14 players. The salary cap for next year is expected to rise to around $71 million, potentially rising slightly higher than that figure. Using that number, Glen Sather have $11.5 million free to sign seven free agents.
For this upcoming offseason, the Rangers will have to decide what to do with their three unrestricted free agents – Martin St. Louis, James Sheppard, and Matt Hunwick, and four restricted free agents – Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, Jesper Fast and JT Miller.
Its expected that Sather plans on signing all four of the restricted free agents, which he should do, as they are all young, talented players that can be counted on for the future. Derek Stepan will be the most expensive, and Carl Hagelin could also get a good raise. Hagelin, Miller and Fast could wind up getting bridge deals, something that Sather does quite often.
There is a problem with trying to sign all of the RFAs. According to an estimate by Joe Fortunato from Blueshirt Banter, re-signing Stepan, Hagelin, Fast and Miller would cost around $13.5 million, more than the Rangers would have free in cap space. It also means that there would be absolutely no room to sign St. Louis, Hunwick or Sheppard. Read the rest of this entry