The New York Rangers have assigned defenseman Dylan McIlrath to the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL. McIlrath was called up following injuries to Kevin Klein and Ryan McDonagh over the weekend. McIlrath filled a hole while Klein was out, but Klein is back and expected to play tonight, so McIlrath is headed back to Hartford. McIlrath had 9 PIMs on Monday.
Since Klein is coming back, the logical move was to send McIlrath to Hartford. I don’t think this was indicative of his play.
In response to the absurd number of injuries and suspensions (ok, suspension, singular) that have hit the New York Rangers blue line, the Rangers have recalled defensemen Conor Allen and Dylan McIlrath from the Hartford Wolf Pack. McIlrath seemingly won the 7D spot in camp, but the Rangers kept Matt Hunwick so that McIlrath could get big minutes with the Pack. Allen has consistently shown he can play a steady game, if unspectacular.
In 8 games this year, McIlrath has not registered a point and has 21 PIMs. In those same 8 games, Allen has a line of 2-3-5 and 2 PIMs.
It is likely that the Rangers will go with Marc Staal and Dan Girardi as their top pairing, with Hunwick and Mike Kostka as the second pairing (yeesh), and Allen/McIlrath as the third pairing. We are in for a rough one tonight.
John Moore is almost guaranteed a suspension. An in-person hearing with the Department of Player Safety doesn’t guarantee a suspension, but it gives them the option of suspending a player more than five games. Since Moore is a repeat offender, receiving two games for a hit on Dale Weise in last year’s playoffs, it’s a guarantee he misses at least three games, likely five or more.
At the moment, Matt Hunwick is playing somewhat steady filling in for the injured Dan Boyle. Mike Kostka played one game, had a few epic turnovers, but one game isn’t indicative of an entire career. Conor Allen is in Hartford, and he’s the guy most fans think is ready for a shot. Dylan McIlrath was the last one cut from camp, and the first round pick has shown significant progress and promise.
So what can the Rangers do?
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McIlrath may not be ready for prime time but his type of skill set is sorely needed. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Sometimes you have to live with the growing pains while some teams traditionally have slow starts and if you want prospects on the roster you have to endure the inconsistencies that accompany them. However, the sudden lack of depth the Rangers have on defense is an issue that might need resolving with acquiring help from outside of the organisation rather than turning to a prospect.
The Rangers defense, thus far, has looked completely inept. Countless blown assignments, a lack of physicality and terrible positioning in their own zone; the Rangers defense has been highlighted by a boat load of errors in the first three games. Even before Dan Boyle got injured in game one, the Rangers defense had its struggles. In game one it was the inability to get out of their own zone effectively.
The Rangers bottom pairing needs addressing and despite a respectable first game, Matt Hunwick is not the answer. Players such as Hunwick and Mike Kostka are stop gaps. They are not ‘plug in and play’ types that add competence to a unit long term. The Rangers can (and will) stop the bleeding despite Dan Boyle’s absence but even with Boyle this unit has its flaws that will need addressing.
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Have the Rangers moved on from Bourque?
The Rangers have been whittling down their roster in the past few weeks as they approach Thursday’s season opener. Many of the players that have already been cut won’t have a future with the franchise, but some players futures have yet to be decided. With the roster due to be finalised within the next 24 hours, we take a look at a few of the prospects already down on the farm.
After a strong end to last season and with significant turnover among the Rangers presumptive bottom six over the summer, Bourque was considered a dark horse for a roster spot. He was never a realistic option. Following his demotion to Hartford on October 1st, the small but hard working Bourque appears to have been passed by several prospects and at this stage of his career. Only a stunning season with the Wolf Pack will get him back in the reckoning and even that may not be enough. An injury call up and/or an uncertain future as trade bait appears to be Bourque’s immediate situation.
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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.
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After Michael Del Zotto was traded last week, many folks in the Ranger Twittersphere turned again to the decision to draft Dylan McIlrath over Cam Fowler as a franchise-crippling blow. Many believe that the Rangers passed on drafting Fowler because they thought they already had a very similar player in Del Zotto and Fowler would have been redundant. Meanwhile, McIlrath was a very unusual commodity that could fill a long-standing hole, so the team happily selected him at No. 10. Of course, Del Zotto never met expectations in New York and Fowler is enjoying a breakout year in his fourth NHL season, so Rangers fans are filled with regret.
The 2010 draft has become one of the biggest gripes among Ranger fans in recent years, but it’s time to let it go. Whether you believe McIlrath will turn into a second-pairing D-man or not, it’s hard to argue at this point that the Blueshirts’ brass didn’t make a mistake. So did many other teams that year, so do many teams every other year.
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With the holiday roster freeze approaching at midnight tonight, the Rangers made a trio of roster moves to set themselves up for the next week. They returned forward Arron Asham and defenseman Dylan McIlrath to the AHL. They also recalled forward J.T. Miller for the third time this season. Hopefully the third time is a charm for Miller and the Rangers, who desperately need some form of consistency in the lineup.
A lot has been made about the coach’s apparent decision to sit Dylan McIlrath tonight against the Penguins. I understand both sides of the argument. If the kid is up in the NHL, he should play. But the kid has some glaring holes in his game, and putting him up against the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Crosby’s isn’t exactly the best matchup for someone who has trouble skating. Then again, neither is Justin Falk.
My thought on this: If the kid isn’t going to play 8-10 minutes a night, then send him back to the AHL. AV is a fan of having kids sit in the press box to get a bird’s-eye view of the system he runs, but McIlrath has less than 100 pro games under his belt. He needs to develop the raw parts of his game in the AHL with top minutes. If he is going to play 8-10 minutes a night, then keep him here, because Falk sure isn’t getting the job done.
One more bit on McIlrath: He is far from NHL ready. I understand the need for a bruiser and a right-handed shot, but the kid has a few glaring holes that need to be fixed by Jeff Beukeboom in Hartford. The kid has made tremendous strides this year after a gruesome knee injury ruined last season. I’m big on this kid, but rushing him to fit a need doesn’t help in the long-term.
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Rarity: A Ranger goal celebration. AP Photo/Mike Strasinger
With the Rangers seemingly in a tail spin and with the injuries mounting it really isn’t time to panic no matter how bleak it may seem at present. That said, changes do need to be made.
The Rangers have an opportunity to insert the likes of JT Miller, Danny Kristo and Dylan McIlrath now and give them consistent ice time and at no real risk. All of the aforementioned cannot do worse than the likes of Benoit Pouliot, Taylor Pyatt and (this season at least) any combination of Falk, Del Zotto and John Moore. If all they achieve this season is to become role players – or even that they simply avoid being liabilities – then it’s almost already an upgrade and developmental time long term.
With the team generating little to no offense, inconsistent (at best) defense and with spaces to fill thanks to an injury list that could backfill a local hospital there is an opportunity to exploit. Alain Vigneault has bemoaned the lack of appropriate player types and perhaps that’s true but is that because he’s simply icing the wrong type or is it that he hasn’t got them within the entire organisation? It’s time to find out.
Barring a disaster of epic proportions, Vigneault has time on his side so it would surely benefit him to look at the prospects available. He’s not getting fired this season unless the Rangers go on a winless streak that would threaten riots in New York.
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