Does Kevin Klein affect Dylan Mcllrath’s future?

February 20, 2014, by
What does the future hold for Dylan McIlrath? (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

What does the future hold for McIlrath? (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

When the Rangers made their Michael Del Zotto for Kevin Klein swap with the Predators, they gave up on a frustrating offensive talent and went with the less able but more reliable stay at home, physical type. What they also did was commit to a player whose size and physical ability is likely to be on the Rangers blue line for several seasons. They also committed to someone that inadvertently may be a road block for one of the franchise’s key draft picks, Dylan McIlrath.

While Klein doesn’t possess the same potential snarl or size as McIlrath, the additional four years (at $2.9 million per year) means the Rangers have solidified their third pairing with the type of player they’ve needed for what seems like generations. Is there still room for McIlrath? With his skating ability still his biggest question mark, Mcllrath’s future is at least partly dependent with how Klein acclimatises to New York, with the initial solid performances promising.

With Ryan McDonagh and (barring excessive demands) Dan Girardi entrenched as the minute eating top pair in New York, the return to form of Marc Staal (has he ever been better?), and Anton Stralman  as your reliable top four fill-in, there isn’t much room on the blue line. John Moore’s re-emergence back on his natural side means there’s a solid top six in New York without factoring in the merits of McIlrath.

McIlrath also has to contend with the prospects outside of New York. Is he even the Rangers best defensive prospect right now? Conor Allen’s impressive quick stint in New York this season –coupled with a solid rookie year with the Wolf Pack– means Allen may be the next in line, especially as he’s already an NHL level skater. The competition doesn’t stop there. Calle Johansson, Brady Skjei, even Tommy Hughes all still factor into the Rangers thinking. McIlrath faces a potentially uncertain future without even considering potential free agent additions or draft picks.

Even with the presence of Klein, McIlrath represents a unique skill set that the Rangers would love to have patrolling their blue line. But he needs to improve his skating and make himself an undeniable asset. No longer is McIlrath the sole option to resolve the Rangers apparent softness on the blue line. With the coaching change and the subsequent change in emphasis toward a more puck possession, speed orientated game is Mcllrath’s skill set even a priority anymore?

What was a waiting game for the eventual arrival of Dylan McIlrath has become – through no fault of his own – a question as to whether he’ll ever arrive at all. Still a quality talent, the clock’s ticking on Mcllrath’s future, partly thanks to the arrival of Kevin Klein.

Categories : Defense


  1. Steff says:

    Or perhaps he just now got the time and space to develop properly.

  2. Walt says:

    If Strahlman doesn’t sign, Klein moves up with Staal, and McIlrath could play along side of Moore!!! Just a thought?????

    • Chris F says:

      That would be tough as nails right side: Girardi, Klein, McIlrath.

    • Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

      I think Conner Allen is the next man up if a kid is called from the farm. He played real well. They may let McIlrath play 1 more season in Hartford before deciding his fate as a Ranger.

      • Dave says:

        Depends on which side needs a call up. Allen is a lefty, McIlrath a righty.

        • Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

          True but it’s a problem theyve had for some time now and would adapt all the same and call up the best player IMO.

    • Dave says:

      That’s what I think the plan is if Stralman doesn’t re-sign. If he does (and Girardi does), then they are in a position of envy. Three NHL RHD and a fourth waiting in the wings is rare to find.

    • Leatherneckinlv says:

      Yes, Stralman will not Klein. If Stralman signs then McIlrath has a tough time cracking the line up.

  3. Walt says:

    I know that I’m repeating myself, but sending NHL’ers to the games is stupid. John Taveras went down with a knee injury, and won’t finish out the games. So now the Fishsticks are out their best player. I hate the Fishsticks, but I really hated to see this happen to the kid, or any other player over there!!!!

    • Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

      Zetterburg might be out the rest of the regular season too. Contracts are insured by the Olympic committee. Idk how it works towards team cap space now but the player got hurt outside of the NHL.

      • PAL says:

        Too many injuries to NHLers in the Olympics. The Rangers got “Jagred” with Zucc’s injury, notwithstanding all those who said it was not serious. This sucks again. As do the “professional” Olympics. Let’s go back to letting college-boys play in the team sports. The pros get enough money and glory.

        • Hatrick Swayze says:

          Yes… lets also send amateur and collegiate skiers, speed skaters and ice dancers.

          The Olympics is no place to showcase professionals and best in the world at their craft.

          • Spozo says:

            Well said

          • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

            I’m not sure the Islanders feel the same way.

            • Hatrick Swayze says:

              Of course they don’t… anyone who owns, is invested in, affiliated with or employed by the NHL or one of it’s organizations would probably have a differing opinion. If the NHL is your end game, then I can’t disagree that you shouldn’t be for player participation in the Olympics.

              For me, though, the sport of hockey is my end game. Hockey is bigger than North America and it is bigger than the NHL. Don’t get me wrong, the NHL playoffs are my favorite time of year. But the Olympic tournament needs NHLers just like it needs SELers, KHLers, FELers and all other types of professional fellers (ha, get it?).

              Insured contracts, asset values, dashed playoff hopes, advertising revenues, etc are all factors which cloud the picture on this issue, no doubt. BUT, for me, there is no other acceptable answer than to find a way to continue to allow the NHL players to participate in these games once every 4 years. Simply put, it is the best international showcase of all world talent on ice. National rivalries and historical/political story lines do nothing but help to raise the stakes and fuel the fire.

              I’ll tell you this much, I probably would not decide to arrive to work 2 hours early tomorrow morning in order to watch SWE v FIN in the semi finals if Lunqvist, Rask, Karlsson, Kronwall, Selame, Alfredsson, Sedin, Granlund and co. were not able to participate. For my money, this might be the most exciting hockey tournament there is, NHL playoffs included.

              Third favorite is the world juniors… I go back and forth on ranking my top 2.

              • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

                All fair points. I’m with you, I love the top level competition in the Olympics, it makes for the best quality.

                And really, I’m torn on the issue, but ultimately, NHL fans are just lucky that the season-ending injury to one of the best players in the game plays for a team that will not make the playoffs and that Mats Zuccarello’s injury isn’t long term (hopefully).

                It’d be a different story if the same thing happened to Jonathan Toews or Ryan Getzlaf, captains of top teams in the NHL. It would be the biggest story in NHL circles.

            • Hatrick Swayze says:

              Islanders were gonna be sellers at the deadline anyway…so fuggem

              • Hatrick Swayze says:

                This to RFiB… I couldn’t reply to your above post… I think the chain was too long.

                But yes, I fully agree. Injuries are THE reason that this isn’t a clear cut black and white issue.

              • Chris F says:

                That’s not the point.

          • PAL says:

            My comments were limited to team sports. I must disagree with you’re suggestion that the Olympics represent the best hockey with the best players in the world:

            1. Team USA, like Team Canada, and most of the other teams, are not “teams”. They are all-star collections. They have not practiced as teams, have not developed camaraderie and systems as teams, over any period of time, and, other than a sense of patriotism to the same nation, have no other long-term bonds. My guess is most NHL teams could beat most of the national teams. Olympic teams are just All-star teams that care more, because of national pride.

            2. Would you say that every Latvian, Swiss, Czech, Slovenian, and Norwegian national team player is better than every American, Canadian or Russian player who did not make his national team?
            The Olympics do not really include the best 200 players in the world.

            • Hatrick Swayze says:

              My point is simple… team USA should be able to bring ANY American to the Olympics they choose. If they want to start a team in June and have them practice together until the games in February, then go for it. If they prefer to build a team like they did in 2010 and 2014 (from a crop of NHL players), then go for it. If they want to mix and match, then go for it.

              That goes for Canada, Latvia, Russia, Slovakia, etc.

              Any league (i.e. NHL) can deny Nations from choosing players under contract in their league, but I feel that it takes away from these games and from more so from fans of the game around the world.

        • Doug Peters says:

          Other countries do NOT follow suit with professionals. Besides, what do u do with a NHL player who decides to go to the Olympics when NHL decides not to allow players to go? Country could offer a lot of $$$ for a player to pass up!

          Since I watched the the 1st Olympic “miracle” in ’60, I have always liked the Olympic competition – professional or amateurs. I want the pros to play. Injuries are part of the game but owners & GM’s will disagree Just ask the Islanders!

          Let them play! It is better for the game (look at ratings). The players want to play for their countries.

  4. Zack says:

    I think a big factor you forget to mention with McIlrath’s future is his inability to stay healthy.

  5. craig says:

    Injuries have slowed down Mcllrath’s progress and development big time . It is much to early in his career to make such an assessment. He could develop into a Jeff Boukaboom type of defensemen in a year or two. I wouldn’t throw the towel in on him just yet. Still has treaty potential.

  6. FrankCerbone says:

    FYI Connor Allen spent 2 training camps with the Washington Capitals & didn’t impress. Allen is NOT having a good year in Hartford and is nicknamed TKO Allen, since every time he fights he gets TKO’d.. He’s also 24 years old & looks like a career AHLer.

    McIlrath won’t be 22 until mid April of this year.

    Brady Skjei, for those that follow NHL hockey, is ranked EVERYWHERE as a bottom 3rd defenseman, like McIlRath. Skjei is a solid skater, but can’t score, hit, or fight. Just a wasted #1, which McIlRath is a wasted #1 as well. You don’t draft defensemen to be bottom 3rd pairings. Special thanks to Gordie Clark & his continuous attempts at making the Rangers the worst rated minor league system in the NHL. Rangers are ranked 27th. In this year’s NHL draft there are 4 pretty solid right handed defensemen (ie.McKeon, Honka,Glover,Dougherty)that might be available when Rangers turn comes up. But Clark probably has his eyes set on that smallish 160 lb Asian centerman ( Hosang- headed to Boston College).

    Until both Sather & Clark are out of here, Rangers will progress only as far as their money can take them.

    • Dave says:

      Conor Allen is a fighter? Guess I missed that memo.

      • Spozo says:

        C’mon Dave. He’s played 46 career AHL games. Clearly enough to label him a career AHLer. He’s had 3 fights, only one of which he lost decisively. Clearly enough to warrant his nickname of TKO Allen.

    • Spozo says:

      The Rangers have an average age of 26.5 on the blue line with no player above the age of 29. They are currently 5th in the conference in goals allowed this season despite a horrible first month. Why are they drafting a defenseman in the first round this year?

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      C’mon, Frank… you can do better than this.

  7. Paco33 says:

    One of the reasons why the trade for Klein was such a good move is that he’d be fine on the 2d pair. With Klein signed for 4 more years the question isn’t whether he’ll block McIlrath as much as whether Stralman will. The effort Sather makes to resign Stralman will be the clearest indication of how he views McIlrath’s development and potential.

  8. TxRanger says:

    What would be McIlrath’s trade value? I mean, I think we ended up with the better player in the Del Zotto deal. Just wondering.

    • "The Original" Rob says:

      Would you trade McIlrath for Cam Fowler lol?

    • The Suit says:

      Probably a 3rd rounder and that’s probably generous

      • "The Original" Rob says:

        Reason why I asked Suit, was because I was trying to be a wise guy with the question. I guess I’m still bent from us passing on picking Fowler in the draft for McIlrath lol.

        • The Suit says:

          Hindsight is always 20/20 my friend. Personally I tend to stay away from prospects and draft arguments. The only guys who truly know that art are sitting at rinks in nowheresville night in and night out.

          Look at it this way…fans probably would have ran Fowler out of town after the output he had his 2nd and 3rd season hahaha.

      • Dave says:

        You undershoot that a lot. He’s clearly not ready yet, but he’s worth more than a 3rd.

        • Ray says:

          I think the Rangers will take a third for McIlrath. I really think he rubbed AV the wrong way when he got called up and Sather will deal him this summer — IF he can get what he thinks is fair value.

          • The Suit says:

            No one is going to give up a 1st round pick right now for a kid with basically no NHL experience who projects as a bottom pairing dman.

  9. FrankCerbone says:

    Allen has ended up on his back or down on his knees in all 3 of his fights & had to be rescued all 3 times by the referees….enough excuses defending Allen. If he was any good, the Capitals would have signed him during his 2 training camps with them. Same goes for Josh Nichols & Kyle Beach who were both given up on by Toronto & Chicago Blackhawks.

    I guess no one has ever read Hockey Futures evaluation of Kevin Klein and his need to be a more physical player. And Del Zotto has a lot more body checks 550 hits over his first 300 games than Klein’s 460 hits over his last 319 games. NO ONE HAS EVER MENTIONED THAT DEL ZOTTO NEEDED TO PLAY MORE PHYSICAL OR WITH MORE OF AN EDGE, NO ONE. However, that is not the case with Klein.

    Yes, I do believe Girardi needs to be resigned and Stralman replaced by either a more offensive (Anaheim’s Vatanen) or physical (Columbus’s Prout)

    With both MCIlrath and Skjei as wasted #1s and Conor Allen looking like a career AHLer, the 2014 NHL draft is deep in right handed talented defensemen that Rangers must choose at least one. Gordie Clark’s love afair with New England boys must not result in choosing undersized stringbean Hosang.

    • mikeyyy says:

      You lost me when you claimed Kreider was a bust.

      Allen has potential and attending wsh ca ps and not inpressing is not surprising. They suck.

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      I saw Gaborik lose a fight once to Carcillo… he must suck, huh?

      Skjei is a wasted 1st rounder?

      Am I real?

    • Spozo says:

      Clark should fire his staff for the next draft. On draft day all he needs to do is stop by the local 7-11 and pick up the Hockey Future draft guide. He will definitely hit a home run this time!

      • FrankCerbone says:

        Hockey’s Future Draft guide is a compilation of opinions of Central Scouting & various other hockey scouting combines.

        The fact that Gordie Clark probably does not read Hockey’s Futures is why he picked guys like Jessiman,Cherepanov,Sanguinetti,McIlrath,& Skjei despite warnings by Hockey’s Futures about such risky picks.

        • Spozo says:

          They totally missed the warning of “Cherapanovs gonna die by age 19”. Clark and his staff totally didn’t get that memo. They should have consulted Hockey’s Future.

          • pavel_burrito says:

            Nor did he read the Tonya Harding prediction that McLrath will blow out his knee. Just plain lazy.

          • Frank Cerbone says:

            Like, I said for those of you who are new to hockey, Cherepanov’s ranking dropped like a rock just before the draft. There were comments about his wanting to stay in Russia,out of shape, playing against inferior competition, and wanting to use his own doctor for his physical. When nearly all NHL scouts walkered away from Cherepanov, Gordie Clark jumped in and drafted him. Same goes for Del Zotto’s ratings dropped just before the draft when questions were raised about his attitude. I was always higher on Del Zotto’s defense partner John Carlson, but that’s another story. Rangers jumperd in when DelZotto was still on the board, ignored John Carlson, & Washington stole Carlson.

    • pavel_burrito says:

      I don’t think the total number of hits tell the whole story. For me, it’s more about the right time and place for a hit. I would rather take a few well placed checks that clear the crease rather than Del Zotto going out of his way to make a highlight hit up high and leave his position.

      • Frank Cerbone says:

        Del Zotto’s multiple hits on Chris Neil, and I mean hits (plural), Crosby, Neal, Rutuu are all over UTUbe. If the Rangers stopped playing around with him, he would have been a star in NY. In fact, young high draft ed defenseman Ryan Ellis is supposedly on the trading block because of Del Zotto’s solid play on the left side.

  10. mikeyyy says:


    the only person who has an effect on mcilraths future is mcilrath.

  11. Ray says:

    I think that you develop prospects and don’t worry about who is blocked and who isn’t. Before his injury, IMO, Mike Sauer was the Rangers’ best right side defenseman and it made sense to pencil him in the lineup for years to come. But you never know what will happen.

    • Frank Cerbone says:

      Sauer was injured all thru juniors,the AHL, & was coming back from a shoulder separation the night his career ended. I wasn’t the only one asking the Rangers to trade Sauer before he would get injured again. In fact, all 3 of Sauer’s older brothers are out of pro sports & on permanent disability. No one has ever mentioned that bit of trivia connection between Sauer & his older brothers.

      • Spozo says:

        Brilliant. Injured shoulder ———-> career ending concussion.

        How did I miss this correlation. Obviously this is a trend we should have noticed 6 years ago. Shame on us/Rangers organization/everyone else on the planet who didn’t notice this.

      • Lou says:

        2 topics here: as for McIlrath, he needs to still grow into his body and become a better / faster skater. All the hitting in the world doesn’t help if you can’t catch the opponent. Would be nice to see him get to the point where he is in the discussion. Cause he’s still at least year away. As for Allen, he’s a steady dman and could be a depth player. For Skjei – he looks good to me; a puck moving defenseman is always needed in AV world.

        As for Olympics – wow, this one burns me up. The NHL just made mega dollars on outdoor games, and frankly to put the entire season on hold and risk the health of players and thereby the teams and league standings is reprehensible. Sure a player can get hurt in practice – but that would be for the team we follow during the season we all get emotionally vested in. To go after the exposure of the Olympics is to deny the true fans the CONTINUED excitement of a season that many of us have paid for with season tickets. Haven’t we had enough work stoppages ?
        If the NHL wants a world / nationalistic tournament, do it during the summer ….and don’t mess with our sport and pastime.
        Come on people – you don’t need to just sit there and take it!
        To put the entire season on hold for 2 weeks is a slap in the face – regardless of how good the games or competition has been (not)!

  12. Dan says:

    What about the theory of defensemen not hitting their peaks till they’re in their late 20’s?

    I dunno how we can write of Mcilrath this early. Chara didn’t hit his stride till his 5th-6th season and that’s when he was in Ottawa. I don’t want to get ripped on because Chara is a special player but I remember watching him when he was on the Islanders and his time in Ottawa before Boston, not even thinking he would be the player he is today.

    Mcilrath is only 21 (he’ll be 22 in April). IF he can stay healthy, I want to see what we have in him next year. We spent a high draft pick on him, let him play next year and let’s see if he can hang with our boys.

    • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

      How about this for a reasonable take on a young defenseman who has yet to hit his physical prime. And a post without all the hyperbole and generalizations.

      Thumbs up.

  13. Chuck A says:

    What is the prospect Stralman gets mad-money from a team after the season? At 1.7m, am I naïve to think he’s potentially underpriced?

  14. Frank Cerbone says:

    There are a number of UFA right handed defensemen ie. Niskanen,Gilbert,Engelland available at the end of the season and a LARGE number of RFA defensemen as well.

    • Mark says:

      Well if they ever got Engelland that would seal the deal in keeping McILrath in the minors. After all this though, the Rangers need to draft some Centers that can score.

  15. Paco33 says:

    60 comments on the impact the acquisition of Kevin Klein may or may not have on Dylan McIlrath. So, while there’s been some excellent Olympic hockey over the past 10 days, ya think some of us are going through NY Rangers withdrawal?

  16. Walt says:

    Talking about olympic hockey, John Taveras will be out for the rest of the year. He will need reconstructive surgery, he tore his MCL in the left knee. Hate to see this type of injury to anyone, except maybe Crosby or Malkin!! Just a joke folks, don’t take me serious.