Yesterday, the New York Rangers waived Dylan McIlrath, with the intention of sending him down to the Wolf Pack. As you can imagine, this sent fans into a bit of an uproar. After all, Josh Jooris was just diagnosed with a separated shoulder and was destined to hit LTIR. This would have given the Rangers more roster flexibility with the imminent returns of Pavel Buchnevich and Chris Kreider. The Rangers didn’t have to make a move.
As of this writing, there are still several hours left in the waiver period, so we are not yet sure if the team will lose McIlrath for nothing yet. There seems to be no consensus on the likelihood of a claim (I tend to think there is a good possibility of one). If McIlrath sneaks through to Hartford that will be some grade A depth in the minors in case of future injuries, and additional ice time can only help his continued development. If he is claimed, it will highlight some poor asset management on the part of the organization, especially since he did not have to be waived at the moment.
Update: McIlrath needs to play 41 more games this season, or else he becomes a UFA. This is likely the reason why there was no trade.
The Rangers have officially placed Dylan McIlrath on waivers. This move comes as no surprise, as Alain Vigneault has more or less stated he’s not going to play him. As the odd-man out on the now healthy blue line, the Rangers appear to have been unsuccessful in trying to trade him.
Personally, I don’t think McIlrath ever got a fair shake from AV. I think he could have been a serviceable bottom pairing guy. That said, he’s not going to be a top-four guy, and he’s not someone to really flip out over losing. It would have been nice had he made it, though.
We’re a few games into the season at this point, and it’s plain to see what the Rangers’ strengths are as a team. Most of this stems from the team’s deep forward corps – the team is fast and has a scoring touch on each of their four lines. What’s also becoming increasingly clear however is the Rangers’ weakness: the defense. While this may seem like an obvious point to make, it’s important to go further and parse out exactly what the issues are in order to better understand how to address them.
Let’s start with what even the most stalwart apologists for the Rangers defense would acknowledge: aside from Ryan McDonagh, this is not a defensive group that moves the puck well. The forwards on the team mostly make up for them, as they’re all quite fast and each line has someone capable of making quick passes and carry-ins on it, but the start of the breakout needs work.
Hartford Wolf Pack 3, Hershey Bears 2 (OT)
By Henry Lucey
Hartford, CT, October 26, 2016 – Ryan Graves connected on a slap shot from the right point at 2:35 of overtime to lift the Hartford Wolf Pack to thrilling 3-2 overtime victory over the Hershey Bears Wednesday night at the XL Center.
Following an up-tempo start, the contest remained scoreless until Hershey’s Tyler Lewington fired a wrist-shot over Wolf Pack goaltender Magnus Hellberg’s right shoulder at 15:42 of the first period. Hartford finished the opening frame with seven shots, but were unable to capitalize, and went into the break trailing by a 1-0 score.
Hartford’s scoring drought came to end when Chris Brown crashed the Hersey net and deflected in a power play goal at 7:24. The goal, Brown’s first of the season, was assisted by Adam Tambellini and Calle Andersson. With the crowd still on its feet, Malte Stromwall notched his first North American professional goal just 55 seconds later, giving the Pack a 2-1 advantage.
Josh Jooris left yesterday’s game with an upper-body injury and did not return. Alain Vigneault announced last night after the game that Jooris has a separated shoulder and will be out indefinitely. Timeframe for recovery will be dependent on results of an MRI to be performed today.
Jooris was always looking like the odd-man out once the Rangers got fully healthy, but now will be placed on IR to make room for the returning Pavel Buchnevich. It seems that whenever the Rangers need to make a roster decision, someone else gets hurt and delays the decision. Solid timing for injuries, I guess. If that’s such a thing.
The Rangers continued to show that they can erase deficits quickly by falling down 2-0 early to the Bruins. Sloppy play in their own zone led to a pair of bad goals against in the first period. But then they got going, and scored five straight en route to their 5-2 win over the Bruins last night. The Vesey-Stepan-Nash line, along with Brandon Pirri, contributed all of the offense in the comeback.
The Rangers benefited from a shorthanded Bruins team, missing their top three goalies, and forced to play Zane McIntyre. McIntyre didn’t look bad, just the Rangers depth is a lot for any team to deal with. Henrik Lundqvist allowed a bad one, but was solid otherwise in the win.
On to the goals:
David Pastrnak hits Dan Girardi high. He got a two minor check to the head penalty. Girardi left the ice. No word on his return.
The Rangers swept the weekend back-to-back despite a number of last minute injuries. After two days off, they are looking to make it three in a row on Rivalry Night on NBCSN against the Bruins. But tonight is like no other Rivalry Night. Tonight, the Rangers try to break the curse.
That curse, of course, is beating the opposition’s fourth string goalie. In the history of the organization, the Rangers have never been able to beat the fourth string goalie. Ever*. Luckily the Bruins are off to a mediocre start, as depth seems to be a major issue in Boston.
*-Probably not true, but it sure does seem like it.
The Rangers clearly need help on their blueline and have a well documented surplus of forwards up front so it stands to reason that multiple Rangers forwards would be connected to trade rumours given their uneven line-up. That doesn’t mean Jeff Gorton should be in a rush to move kids such as J.T. Miller for blueline help.
My personal feeling is that the Rangers would be making a monumental mistake if they wind up trading J.T. Miller, almost regardless of the return he brings. Miller’s development curve has been trending upwards for a long time now. Miller is still young, has good speed and size, a cap friendly contract and is a home-grown, cost controlled asset with yet more upside. All of these merits and yet we haven’t mentioned Miller can play all over the line up and in every different scenario. You don’t trade that kind of player.
“He’s dropped off a little bit for me,” an NHL scout told ESPN’s Craig Custance. “I hate to say it, but I think he’s on the backside of things now.”
There are likely a few reasons for the number of growing doubters: