Matt Gilroy has been a disappointment in his two seasons in New York. Signed to a two year, $3.5 million deal out of Boston University, Gilroy was brought in to provide offense from the blue line. Gilroy did not produce, and at points was seen as a liability when inserted into the lineup. As a converted forward, the defensive lapses aren’t surprising, and were somewhat expected. The problem herein lies with the lack of production, as without production, you cannot ignore the defensive lapses.
Gilroy played in 69 games in 2009-2010 before being sent down to the AHL to work on his game. It appeared that he had hit the proverbial “NCAA Wall”, which affects many NCAA players making the jump from college to the pros. In that season, he generated just four goals and 15 points. Gilroy played less than 12 minutes per game, and was rarely seen on the powerplay or the penalty kill. He was essentially a $1.75 million third pairing defenseman, and one that didn’t add anything special to the mix.
This past season, Gilroy’s play wasn’t stellar, but it was better. The production still wasn’t there –just three goals and 11 points in 58 games– and he was still being caught out of position. He found himself as a healthy scratch for many games, especially after the Rangers called up Ryan McDonagh and acquired Bryan McCabe. He was simply living up to his projection of a sixth/seventh defenseman.
Gilroy was re-inserted into the lineup in April as the Rangers were closing in on a playoff berth. In desperate need of offense, the thought process was that Gilroy’s offensive prowess would help out the team. Well, the Rangers made the playoffs, and Gilroy played well enough to earn himself a roster spot. During the playoffs, Gilroy’s play was much improved, as he seemed to be less jittery than some of the rookies on the blue line. His previous playoff experience in the Frozen Four paid off, as he was one of the stronger Rangers skaters in the first round loss to Washington. He wasn’t really noticeable, except for that first goal of the series, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing for a defenseman.
In the end, Gilroy’s play in the playoffs probably saved his future with the Rangers. The Rangers currently have five defensemen they are 100% bringing back (McDonagh, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Mike Sauer, Michael Del Zotto), which leaves spots open for the sixth and seventh defenseman. Of course, this all boils down to money, and Gilroy will simply not be getting his $1.75 million per season in his next contract. If he wants a matching contract, he will not be a Ranger. If he’s willing to take a paycut, then I would keep him around for a year or two. He still has that potential to add offense. Keyword there being potential.