Archive for Dylan McIlrath
Jeff Gorton continues to cross things off his to-do list, this time inking RFA defenseman Dylan McIlrath. The deal is for one-year at $600,000. McIlrath needs to clear waivers this year (as does Lindberg), so this is a definitive “show me” deal. Show me that you can play at the NHL level.
McIlrath, the Rangers oft-criticized 1st round pick in 2010, showed significant improvements last season, but is still viewed by many as a long shot for the NHL. He’s not going to light the lamp, but the Rangers are hoping he can play a decent stay-at-home game while serving as a brutal physical force. Skating will be his biggest issue.
Before the offseason began, many were penciling Dylan McIlrath and Oscar Lindberg into their October lineups. It makes sense, as the Rangers are in a cap crunch at the moment, and Derek Stepan’s contract could be more expensive than initially anticipated. The Rangers need to save cap space, and two kids on sub-$1 million contracts is a perfect place to make up that cap space. The most popular solutions involved trading Tanner Glass and Kevin Klein, two players who may be too expensive for the roles they play on the team.
But the Rangers appear to be hesitant to trade Klein, and we all know that Glass isn’t going anywhere. So that casts a shadow on the future for these two kids. Both are 23 years old, and both will turn 24 in the upcoming season. Both are going to be on their second contracts with the Rangers organization, and both will need to pass through waivers if they don’t make the club out of camp.
Got four questions for the mailbag, so let’s have at it.
Q (More of an FYI, from Ray): I questioned the SAT data showing the Lightning dominated the first two periods of Game 6 in a BSB comment. Anyway, I actually didn’t watch the game live – I taped it -and so I could revisit it. I tried to keep track of zone time in the first period (too mindless to do the entire game).
My numbers aren’t perfect, I’m sure, but they are unbiased with presumably small errors which likely mostly balance out.
I believe OZ time itself is a better indicator of possession, but the NHL stopped tracking it in 2001 for some reason. We use SAT because, logically, if you have the puck in the offensive zone, you are getting shot attempts. Yes, this does undervalue the cycle, and wearing down and pinning the opposition, but the goal of the cycle is to get shot attempts. You can cycle all you want, but if you don’t get shot attempts, the puck won’t go in.
Your email was very detailed. I’m posting the full email in the comments so that people can discuss.
In a season where the Rangers, from top to bottom, have done almost everything right the decision to insert Matt Hunwick straight into the line-up is the sign of a missed opportunity. When Henrik Lundqvist went down with an injury the team turned to Cam Talbot. Slowly but surely Talbot has turned himself into a legitimate NHL starter – at worst a high end backup – and moving forward, has developed into an asset for the franchise.
When Lundqvist eventually returns the embarrassment of riches in goal will be a huge advantage for the Rangers. On top of that the team has identified a young netminder in Mackenzie Skapski who may also have a future with the big club. In injury, opportunities lie or so they say.
While Talbot’s form was critical to the Rangers pursuing a high seed and playoff position, there is less pressure (to an extent) on Klein’s replacement in the line-up. Barring a collapse of the most epic of proportions the Rangers have a playoff spot sown up and barring a slightly less but still epic collapse they have a high seed in the bag too. The timing of Kevin Klein’s injury should represent an opportunity to test one of the younger Hartford blueliner’s.
As the NHL trade deadline approaches and Glen Sather adjusts his moving-target-deadline-strategy, the conversation is likely to shift from which roster players can be dealt to which kids can be dealt. As the push for a Stanley Cup in the Henrik Lundqvist era continues (and, frankly as the window closes), the Rangers are going to push and go for it all, meaning they aren’t likely to deal established roster players for immediate help.
This turns the conversation to the farm system, and identifying which prospects may be blocked from making the roster, or may not even be in the long term plans of the organization. This includes kids that have developed nicely, kids that are former first round picks, or kids that seem to have flamed out.
For those of you that have been around for a while, you know that in the beginning, Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues was a bit helper in getting us off the ground here. Naturally, I’m a Yankee fan, and I read RAB daily. Recently, Mike penned a post about prospect fatigue, and how fans and experts alike sometimes get tired of mentioning the same prospect for multiple years in a row. This is not a concept that is unique to baseball.
This same concept, I believe, applies to Dylan McIlrath. Drafted in the first round in 2010, McIlrath was a project pick who would take several years to develop. A huge, punishing defenseman meant to be that big time crease clearer that the Rangers haven’t had since Jeff Beukeboom. Five years later, McIlrath is still developing along his slow timetable.
For the first few years, McIlrath was always ranked somewhat highly in the prospect rankings coming from Hockeys Future, Corey Pronman, or more recently, Adam Herman. But the longer he was in the system, even when he was still in the AHL, he dropped in the rankings. On Hockey Future, McIlrath is ranked as the 5th best defenseman. Pronman had him 9th overall. Herman 8th. McIlrath, up until this year, usually was in the top-five.
So what changed?
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?
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.