With all the commotion of free agency and Glen Sather’s dedication to add scoring, its easy to forget about the defensemen the Rangers have in their system. Among them is Matt Gilroy, who signed a 2-year $3.5 million deal on April 17th, 2009.
BIO: A native of Long Island, Gilroy, 24, played high school hockey for St. Mary’s, where he was captain and won two New York State Championships in the process. He then began his junior hockey career playing for Apple Core in Long Beach and later played in the British Columbia Hockey League. Gilroy was an accomplished forward during his junior years. After a stint with the Walpole Junior Stars in the ECHL, Gilroy walked-on to the Boston University Terriers in 2005-2006. With no forward positions available, Gilroy made the transition to defenseman, where he contributed immediately.
In his freshman year, he played in all but one game, tallying 8 points with a +21 rating. In his sophomore season, Gilroy blossomed, garnering his first of three All-American honors. He was named assistant captain and played in every single game, netting 26 points with a +18 rating. Gilroy’s junior year was more of the same, again playing in every game while scoring 21 points with a +17 rating. It was at this point, however, that Gilroy began turning heads and started to become a legitimate NHL prospect. He was garnering so much attention that he even told BU Head Coach Jack Parker he was going to test the NHL free-agent waters after his junior year, and likely leave the team after he was signed. As a result, Parker gave Gilroy’s scholarship to another player, but Gilroy ultimately decided to hang around and finish up his degree. Since the scholarship was no longer his, however, Gilroy’s played his senior year without a scholarship. Not much changed though in terms of Gilroy’s on-ice contributions.
Gilroy dominated college hockey as a senior, reaching career-highs in almost every category. The team captain helped lead BU to their third Beanpot title in 4 years and again led the team in plus-minus. Gilroy’s accolades included his third All-American selection, a feat accomplished only by fellow New York Ranger Chris Drury and Rick Meagher, as well as the 2009 Hobey Baker Award as the nation’s top college hockey player. Gilroy’s last college game was the National Championship against the Miami-Ohio Redhawks. With his team trailing 3-2 and less than a minute to play, Gilroy pulled off one of the most unselfish of plays in a clutch moment, assisting the game-tying goal (fast-forward to 5 minutes to see the goal). BU would eventually go on to win, and Gilroy would round out his college hockey career as one of the most decorated players ever.
SCOUTING REPORT: 6 foot, 2 inches. 202 pounds. Excellent hockey sense, responsible defenseman. Rarely found out of position. Great ice vision. Excellent puck control and passing ability. Good two-way player. Exceptionally strong skater. Character player, who can project as a future captain. Leads by example. Does not have a great shot. Will not use his body as often as he should, but will use it when necessary. Projects as a second-pairing defenseman
BSB Analysis: It’s hard for me personally to say anything bad about this guy, having the same roots here on LI (his hockey career turned out a little better than mine though). What I love about Gilroy is that those roots are humble. Being a walk-on at a major university could not have been easy. He knows he has to earn everything he plays for, and should have little trouble mentally adjusting to the NHL. Having Chris Drury nearby also helps, as he was instrumental in bringing the BU blue-liner to the Rangers. His play in the title game and being named assistant captain in just his second year at BU really shows you the type of leader he is and what the other players in the locker room think about him. His plus/minus ratings while at BU are simply staggering. That and the fact that he only missed one game during his 4-year career really stand out to me. Durability, versatility, responsibility, and leadership are probably his best attributes, and those alone can take you a long way. When they originally signed him, I believed they were going to move him back to forward, given the Rangers ineptitude for offense and the deep depth chart on the blue-line. With the changes in free agency and the new regime beginning to take shape, I don’t see that happening anymore. As a prospect, Gilroy has a lot going for him. He is 24, which is several years older than his fellow prospects, and he already has a big contract. Ultimately, I think Gilroy makes the team as a defenseman out of training camp for those 2 reasons alone, but mostly because of his poise and moxy. He just doesn’t seem like the type of player who will get rattled when things go south, and us all being Rangers fans, we have seen plenty of newcomers do so.
***For more on Matt Gilroy’s play at the NHL level, please click here.