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Rangers agree to terms with defenseman Dylan McIlrath

Bobby Bevilacqua

dylan mcilrath

The Rangers re-signed defenseman Dylan McIlrath to a one year deal, a “show me” deal for him to prove to management that he’s ready to be an NHL defenseman. Photo courtesy of Jim McIssac/Getty Images.

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.

Rangers ship Cam Talbot to the Oilers for three draft picks

Bobby Bevilacqua

cam talbot pad save 3-24

The trade has finally happened. Cam Talbot is now an Edmonton Oiler, and will take over their starting goalie duties for next season. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

The long awaited Cam Talbot trade has finally taken place, and like many expected, he will be wearing Oilers’ orange and blue next season.

It was expected that Glen Sather was pushing to get a first round draft pick for Talbot after Robin Lehner fetched the 21st overall pick for the Senators, but he was unable to do that, with Talbot remaining a Ranger until today.

The Oilers finally completed the trade with the Rangers, acquiring Cam Talbot to be their starting goalie of the future. In return, the Rangers received a second round pick (57), a third round pick (79th), and they swapped seventh round picks with Edmonton, moving up to the 184th pick.

The Rangers wound up trading the 57th pick to the Washington Capitals for the 62nd and 113th picks. Read the rest of this entry

Robin Lehner traded to Buffalo, what this means for Cam Talbot

Bobby Bevilacqua

cam talbot side profile 3-22

The Ottawa Sabres were able to get a first round draft pick in exchange for Robin Lehner and Devid Legwand. Talbot’s stats are better, so could he fetch the same return, or more? Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

This morning, the Buffalo Sabres acquired their new starting goaltender, trading away the 21st overall pick in return for David Legwand and 23 year old goalie Robin Lehner.

While Lehner is younger than Talbot, his stats are not all that impressive. The 6-foot-5, 225 pound goaltender has a career 30-36-13 record in 86 total games, posting a .914 save percentage and a 2.88 GAA. In this past season, Lehner was 9-12-3 in 25 games with a .903 save percentage and a 3.02 GAA.

His largest sample size came during the 2013-14 season, when he played 35 games, and finishing with a 12-15-6 record along with a .913 save percentage, a 3.03 GAA and one shutout. Read the rest of this entry

Rangers need to clear cap and trust the kids on defense

Bobby Bevilacqua

Dylan McIlrath and Brady Skjei

The Rangers need to clear cap space in order to re-sign their RFAs. To do that, some cap needs to be cleared on defense, and players like Dylan McIlrath and Brady Sjkei, both first round picks, should get playing time in the NHL. Photos courtesy of Jim McIsaac/Getty Images and MSG Photos.

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

Cam Talbot trade rumors heating up, Nail Yakupov available, Klein Trade?

Bobby Bevilacqua

cam talbot side profile 2-24

It seems more and more likely that Cam Talbot will be traded, but now the price is climbing. Could first round draft picks or prospects be headed New York’s way? Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

For quite a while now, it’s been assumed that the Rangers are going to move backup goaltender Cam Talbot during this offseason, capitalizing on his higher-than-ever trade value and moving him before he would likely leave after next season.

It was known that Talbot would draw interest from teams in need of a starting goalie, and for a few reasons.

First off, the market for a goaltender is quite weak. There is no chance that the Minnesota Wild will let Vezina Trophy finalist Devan Dubnyk walk, and he will almost definitely be back in a Wild uniform next year. Martin Jones is going to be re-signed by the Kings, and Antti Niemi is a proven number one starter, but he will be very pricey. Read the rest of this entry