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Posts tagged: Dylan McIlrath

Rangers recall Dylan McIlrath

In some surprising news, the Rangers have recalled defenseman Dylan McIlrath. McIlrath is everything the Rangers need at the moment: a right handed physical defenseman.  This is a move that a lot of people wanted, but we at BSB speculated might be a bit of a rush move since most reports are that McIlrath may not be ready at the moment.

The move signals a few things. First is that a style change is coming, as AV has recognized the vanilla nature of this team and a need for serious grit and toughness on the blue line. McIlrath has made major strides this year, and while many expected he would get his cuppa this season, no one expected it would be this soon. This is the first step for AV in adjusting his philosophy to the team that exists around him.

The biggest concern with recalling McIlrath is his skating ability and his defensive presence. He had a very unimpressive training camp, but has improved steadily while in Hartford. If he can continue his development on the big stage, then this is a solid move. If not, then it could be a sign of desperation. Regardless, McIlrath was getting his shot at some point this season. It just so happened to be sooner than we expected.

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

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.

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Should Alain Vigneault send a signal to his team?

McIlrath is one of several prospects that may be considered soon

McIlrath is one of several prospects that may be considered soon

The Rangers entered the regular season with multiple inconveniences behind them, so the horrid start to the regular season does come with some sort of asterisk attached to the team record. With a long road trip, multiple key injuries, a bloated (but necessary) preseason roster, and a new system all to deal with it is clear to see that the Rangers are well behind the eight ball four games in.

Despite all the issues Alain Vigneault and his team has had to deal with, and despite it being four games in, there has been no sign of progress and many of the same players are making repeated mistakes. Is it too early for Alain Vigneault to make an example out of a player or two?

It just so happens that while the Rangers struggle so horribly at both ends of the rink, many Ranger prospects (deemed not ready for the NHL) are off to terrific starts to the season down in the AHL. Danny Kristo has five points in three games, seven shots, and two powerplay goals already.

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Best case/worst case scenarios for Ranger defensemen and goalies in 2013

How good can Ryan McDonagh be?

Defensemen

Aaron Johnson

Best case: Johnson is an adequate depth defender and is significantly better than Stu Bickel in spot duty.

Worst case: Johnson is no better than Bickel and the Rangers are back where they were last year if top-six blueliners get hurt.

Anton Stralman

Best case: Stralman continues to be an unsung hero for the Blueshirts and finally earns the attention he deserves with a standout campaign, including some gaudy power play numbers.

Worst case: Stralman’s hold on the #6 job loosens and Justin Falk pushes him for playing time. Read more »

Is there space for McIlrath?

McIlrath

When will McIlrath be intimidating NHL forwards?

The Rangers drafted Dylan McIlrath 10th overall in 2010 and ever since, media and fans have been waiting for his arrival. While McIlrath is now completely healthy and at Rangers camp looking to make the team there doesn’t appear space in the defensive unit even though his style is an absolute need.

The Rangers are blessed with a strong top four when Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh and Michael Del Zotto are all fit and able. With Anton Stralman a solid depth option it leaves a whole raft of ifs and buts to scrap it out for the 6th and 7th defensive spots. McIlrath will be fighting it out with Aaron Johnson, Danny Syvret, Justin Falk, John Moore and even the likes of Stu Bickel for a roster spot.

The problem here is not ability. John Moore aside, McIlrath has much more upside than any of the other options who are realistically in the frame for the top six. McIlrath needs game time. The Rangers top four will eat up the vast majority of ice time and given his lengthy absence last year the last thing the Rangers want to do to with McIlrath is curb – or stall – his development by offering up five or six minute cameos.

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Musings on free agency eve

Has Glen made another canny move? (Gerry Kahrmann, The Province)

Has Glen made another canny move? (image credit: Gerry Kahrmann, The Province)

Welcome to the musings. It’s the day before free agency and on many occasions it has felt like Christmas Eve to Rangers fans – the day before the presents arrive. This year is likely to be different as the Rangers are set to be more cautious with the little money they have to spend. Or are they?

Scott Arniel seems like a logical choice as assistant coach. He has run his own bench before, has been in charge of multiple Rangers before and will help Alain Vigneault’s transition to New York because of his familiarity with the ex Blue Jackets. You have to assume Arniel is motivated to prove he’s worthy of another shot as a HC too.

Even if it wasn’t the ex-Ranger many hoped for, Ulf Samuelsson is a nice addition to the coaching staff. The Rangers need to be more physically imposing next year and if Samuelsson can get his style as a player across to the Rangers now he’s a coach it could be a smart move.

Scanning the scrap heap:

With the Rangers unlikely to be major buyers July 5th, there are several players who are  no longer wanted by their current teams and are either on waivers or due to be bought out. Amongst those on waivers in the last 24 hours are the following guys who could be of interest to the Rangers in some capacity.

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Taking stock of what’s coming down the prospect pipeline

Expectations are sky-high for Oscar Lindberg going into 2013-2014

Expectations are sky-high for Oscar Lindberg going into 2013-2014

The 2013 draft is now in the books and the Rangers have added five more youngsters to their prospect system.  Let’s take a look at where all the prospects stand heading into the offseason.

On the cusp

Chris Kreider

After bursting onto the scene during the 2012 playoffs, Kreider struggled out of the gate with the CT Whale to start the 2013 season.  He joined the Rangers following the lockout, but never earned major minutes under coach John Tortorella and was frequently sent back and forth from New York to Connecticut.  Still the crown jewel of the Rangers’ system, Kreider should be handed a much bigger offensive role next season under Alain Vigneault.

J.T. Miller

Miller’s quick climb up the ladder to New York was extremely impressive and though his 2012-2013 season was cut short by a wrist injury, he should also have a job to lose in September under Vigneault.  Miller’s game is very much a work in progress – he was guilty of some horrible defensive mistakes and didn’t contribute much offensively, but Miller looked like he belonged in the NHL.  He’s proven to be a very quick study all along and will be expected to continue his growth as a Ranger next season. Read more »

Musings; a look ahead

Zuccarello scores pretty goals, will he be kept?

Zuccarello scores pretty goals, will he be kept?

Welcome to the musings. It’s not a game day, it’s the offseason and that depresses a lot of us. Let’s see if we can collectively raise some spirits shall we?

The way the Bruins are absolutely controlling the Penguins – probably the most skilled and talent laden team in the league – makes you wonder about the Rangers Bruins series doesn’t it? Maybe Tortorella wasn’t the (main) issue. In terms of execution, the Bruins are the best team in the league.

Here at the site, we’ve already begun to touch on free agency, internal movement and candidates to bring in. Looking at the free agent list, it’s incredibly underwhelming. The Rangers need to move forward and try to win while they have Lundqvist, of course they do. However, they really shouldn’t chase name players and throw money around because they have a sense of urgency. That would be suicide.

Assuming they make it to free agency, here are some players I’d consider under the right circumstances: Clarke MacArthur, Tyler Bozak, Viktor Stalberg and Bryan Bickell. There’s a chance none of them get to free agency but all address needs on the Rangers.

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Could McIlrath be rushed to New York?

Time for McIlrath to put the sweater on? (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Time for McIlrath to put the sweater on? (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

With the injuries mounting in New York and the likes of Stu Bickel and Steve Eminger clearly not enjoying the trust of John Tortorella, could we see first round pick and great white hope, Dylan McIlrath rushed to New York? With a nickname like the Undertaker and a (listed) 6-5, 220 lb frame, McIlrath has the potential to be an imposing defenseman.

As seen by the recent inclusion of Christian Thomas, and to a lesser extent Chris Kreider and JT Miller, readiness may not be the priority but rather the necessity of numbers and positional relevance. If you’re going to have to fill the roster you may as well fill it with players with upside. Clearly the Rangers hope Dylan McIlrath will fulfill his talent and draft status in upcoming seasons. He may get a chance sooner rather than later.

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Do the Rangers need to get defensive?

The Connecticut Whales’ preliminary roster for the upcoming AHL season exposes the lack of blueline depth the Rangers now have beyond the NHL level. The Rangers have benefited in recent times as several prospects have developed into successful, full time NHL’ers in quick succession but the lack of a legitimate NHL candidate at the pro level – beyond the currently injured Dylan McIlrath – suggests the Rangers need to look at the position in the upcoming few draft classes.

While the Rangers also have Brady Skjei and Calle Andersson in the system, there is a lack of depth coming through to follow the Staal’s and Del Zotto’s on to the New York roster. The list of names heading to the Whale camp isn’t confidence inspiring. With all due respect the majority of Sean Collins, Steven Delisle, Jyri Niemi, Blake Parlett, Logan Pyett and Mike Vernace will top out as AHL depth players and it seems – being optimistic – only Jyri Niemi can (realistically?) harbour NHL hopes.

Whoever lines up on the Whale blueline this season will face stern tests on an almost nightly basis when you look at some of the impressive names (think Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, Schenn, Henrique etc) sent to respective AHL affiliates. Big league clubs such as Edmonton, New Jersey and Philadelphia have a host of top NHL talent heading to the minors and therefore the unproven, unheralded group of blueliners the Whale will likely put on the ice will know sooner rather than later whether they capable of greater things. Hopefully some of the prospects will surprise.

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