With more physicality needed, it’s time the Rangers tried Dylan McIlrath

November 27, 2013, by
Is Dylan McIlrath ready?

Is Dylan McIlrath ready?

Alain Vigneault commented after the Rangers’ turgid performance in Tampa on Monday that “Nobody touched a soul”, referring to his team’s lack of physicality. This has been an underlying issue for large parts of the season so far. In the mean time, Michael Del Zotto continues to be, at best, inconsistent (and the subject of countless traded rumours in the media) and John Moore also has yet to find his game consistently. As you can see, there is plenty of room for improvement on the blueline.

While the Rangers forward unit appears to be more settled with the demotion of JT Miller (who simply needs playing time at this stage), despite the relatively decent performance of the blueline corps, the Rangers appear in need of an injection of physicality. Is it about time they took a look at Dylan McIlrath?

Mcllrath’s development curve is trending in the right direction. While in Hartford the big, bruising 1st round pick has begun to add an offensive dimension to his game but perhaps more appropriate is that he also leagues the American Hockey League in penalty minutes (with 102 penalty minutes in just 18 games) and if you check the box scores regularly enough, you’ll have noticed a few majors along the way.

McIlrath has become the predominant physical presence for a young Hartford team and his style is certainly something that the Rangers could do with adding. Whether the Del Zotto rumours become more than a rumour will likely also depend on Mcllrath’s apparent readiness for the big club. We have seen prospects rushed recently (see Kreider and now Miller) but we have also seen prospects jump in and contribute immediately (Stepan, Hagelin and most recently Talbot).

At this stage, the Rangers need to try Dylan McIlrath. They need him to be ready and they need to be a more physical team. The Rangers won’t out-skill the likes of Pittsburgh, Washington or even Tampa. They won’t outmuscle Boston or out-skate Montreal but this team can have a little bit of everything. That’s what makes the Rangers a potential contender.

Throwing McIlrath in on the blueline should give Lundqvist and co. more protection and make other teams think twice about holding on to the puck for too long. McIlrath would also likely be more than happy to make the likes of Brad Stuart answer the bell if they continue to take liberties with the Rangers’ star players. It’s been a while since Del Zotto added anything of note to the blueline. It’s time to look at Dylan McIlrath and what he brings.


  1. Bloomer says:

    I have given up the thought that we will see the Ranger young prospects given a legitimate shot with the big club. AV has never been patient with young players, his record in Vancouver speaks for itself. He left the cupboard bare in Vancouver, an aging team of veterans with very little youth on the roster.

  2. SteveM says:

    I would love to see McIlrath here when we hit the 9 game homestand. I think the kid deserves a shot

  3. Walt says:


    It’s about time we address the need for a tough d-man who will defend his team mates. Your article is right on, and let’s hope that big Mc Ilrath will be in town pounding the heck out of some dudes, like Lucic, Stuart, Neil, etc., and the skilled guys will be protected! This also will protect Dorsett, love the guys, but he gets his tail kicked whenever he takes on the big boys.

  4. Hatrick Swayze says:

    I agree. Not to say that he IS the answer and he CAN handle the minutes in the National… but I agree that it would be an opportune time to burn a few games (up to 9 or 10 before the ELC kicks in) and showcase just how ready he is.

    Given the articles this morning about Girardi and Del Zotto’s future with the club, I think it would be wise to see where McIlrath’s development is at. If he slides right in, then perhaps we could give more consideration to moving Del Zotto this season. At minimum it would give Glen and co. a better idea of where our depth on D is.

    • Centerman21 says:

      Speaking of depth on D. That is a position that needs warm bodies. Sather had better use some high picks on defense. A goalie too.

    • Chris A says:

      Just so you know, McIlrath is burning a year off his ELC no matter where he plays this year (AHL or NHL).

  5. Centerman21 says:

    It would be great for the Rangers if McIlrath were ready to join the club. The team could even afford to let him make mistakes while learning. Just his size alone makes him worth it. Come playoff time, teams are going to play the Rangers defenseman real tough. Last year it seemed like that was both Washington & Bostons game plan. To beat up the defense of the Rangers. If McIlrath is the 6th D I have to think the opposition will come up with a new formula to beating the Rangers. All the recent news on McIlrath is that he is improving with every shift he plays. I have to think that had some to do with his name being brought up here. He is a righty (hallelujah) and has a cannon of a shot. 2 very important pieces the Rangers are lacking. For him to make the NYR top 6 D would be the best thing that could happen to this team. Aside from the way Kreider is playing. However, has his skating improved? I have not seen much of him but it’s been said his offensive intincts needed improvement. Maybe they should call him up for a game or 2. If I’m him and I get to play in the NHL, it’s only going to make me work harder to get there perminantly. Maybe let him into a game against a lighter opponent like Florida tonight or Calgary, even Edmonton. Give him a taste of the NHL. Like you guys said, if Sather is thinking about trading a defenseman, it would help to have a timeline on one of your top defensive prospects. Thanks guys and have a happy Thanksgiving!

  6. Tony says:

    Do it now & pair him w/Staal.

  7. SalMerc says:

    We need more than DM. Our 4th line gives us nothing. I would rather see them dress DM and put him on the 4th line to mix it up.

  8. AD says:

    I would rather have AV and the Rangers toil in mediocrity, and figure things out on their own, before rushing our top defensive prospect into the NHL.

    The plan for McIlrath was for ~40 games in Hartford and then re-evaluate; let’s stick with that.

    Why would McIlrath, in competing against Del Zotto and Falk for minutes, be treated differently than Miller, who competed for minutes against Pyatt and Pouliot?

    That would be a horrible situation to put our top defensive prospect; let him dominate with the Whale first.

    AV is an average coach, overall, and below average when it comes to developing youth.

    • Bloomer says:

      AD you are right on the money with your summary of AV. I am not a fan of rushing young players, but I like to see them come up play a game or 2 and get their feet wet. The Rangers defence have been healthy this season so not much opportunity for spots on defence. But their is no excuse for not injecting more young talent in the forwards ranks, because right now they stink.

      • Crash! (@Enufalredi) says:

        The Rangers have a new coach and started the year off 3-7. In AV’s defense, there wasn’t much room for rookies in the lineup. Kreider & Miller were enough. There’s a fine line between winning & losing in this league and a rookie mistake can be that difference. They’re playing with fire right now around the .500 mark. If they can string a winning streak of sort together maybe go 8-2 in a 10 game stretch. Then maybe you’ll see some rookies get their cup of coffee in the NHL. Until then this isn’t a rebuild. They’re built to win now and it’s just as much Sathers call if not more. Even with veterans this team is scoring less than last year.

        • scrangersfan says:

          The Rangers are built to win now? Boy, are we in big trouble. IMO. they’re a 500 team at best.

  9. Frank Cerbone says:

    McIlrath & MDZ as a 3rd pairing?

  10. Mikeyyy says:

    You can try him. But you run the potential of ruining him.

    If av is under .500 at 60 games. Time for the fire sale. Bust it up. Cause it’s not working.

  11. Michael says:

    I think the team is still adjusting as a whole. Score 4+ goals for a spell and then 1 goal and shutouts the next. Inconsistency is the keyword. McIlrath won’t fix that and the expectations for him are insanely high. Set him up to succeed. Play him minimal minutes and let him pound on some people early on to earn some love from the fans. Let’s face it, NY won’t give him much slack once he arrives.

    I hate to be Debbie Downer but I fear Stu Bickel part 2…although Bickel and McIlrath together could pummel on the opposition at will…maybe change the Rangers dynamic and force other teams off of their game.

    Trade Del Zotto for Steve Ott and this team would be really nasty to play against. Come playoff time no team will last 7 games against them.

  12. scrangersfan says:

    Steve Ott would be a good addition but is he available?

  13. Mark says:

    AD writes that he would rather the rangers toil in mediocrity etc.. As a fan for about 46 years. I am tired of mediocrity. It does not take too much to get some measure of physicality on the team whether it is McILrath or someone else. Even an Orr would add more to the team than Pouliot on the wing. And while we are being critics of the D, lets throw in Staal. To me Stralman makes fewer mistakes than Staal. Besides the constant compliments that he gets from the MSG TV announcers what has Staal brought lately? No physical presence there either. So bring up Bickel to play wing and McILrath to play D. The 4th line needs to crash and hit anyway and Pouliot and Pyatt dont do that. Then if you need to hold a lead late in the game roll 3 lines and put Bickel as a 6th D man. I understand that he is a bit of a liability but how many teams have 6 very good D Men? and how often does the 3rd pair need to play late in a game? This is just an example as the dynamic needs to change or all those skilled forwards will not amount to much as they play the game in their own end for 40 minutes a night.