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Posts tagged: Dylan McIlrath

Prospects with a chance to make the team

As the offseason turns to August, and the rosters begin to take shape, the attention turns away from those with guaranteed roster spots and towards the many prospects within the system that are all competing to be that sleeper in camp. Last year Stu Bickel was that sleeper, and Carl Hagelin was the mid-season call up that many expected he would be. This year there aren’t as many spots open for kids, but there is still a spot or two available for a kid who impresses.

With Tim Erixon traded to Columbus, the prospects on defense with a real chance to make the club are few in numbers. In fact, you can really say that only Dylan McIlrath has a legitimate shot at making the club, although he likely needs a full season at the AHL level.

As for forwards, the list is significantly longer. That said, it is a certainty that the Rangers will not rush their prospects just for the sake of saying they have a rookie on the club (outside of Chris Kreider of course). There are a few kids that will need to turn in fantastic camps in order to even have a longer look come the preseason.

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Competing for the last spots on the blue line

The conversations this summer have mainly focused on the Rangers forwards. With three forwards departing, three (four if you include the AHL-bound Michael Haley) coming on board, and the never-ending discussions about Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan, Alex Semin, and Shane Doan, it’s easy to see why the focus is on scoring and depth.

However some of the biggest concerns during the postseason were about the depth on defense. Stu Bickel was barely playing, and the five other defensemen were struggling to keep their legs under them while playing shorthanded throughout the playoffs. The Rangers need depth or growth. With Michael Sauer out, and no major signings pending, the answers appear to have to come from within.

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Dylan McIlrath undergoes surgery to repair dislocated kneecap

The Rangers held their breath last week as defenseman Dylan McIlrath crumpled to the ice in pain after colliding with newly signed prospect Kyle Jean at prospect development camp.

At the time, McIlrath was diagnosed as day-to-day and though he missed the rest of the camp, McIlrath was expected to be healthy for the start of the season.  That’s still not out of the question, but McIlrath faces an uphill battle now after undergoing surgery to repair a dislocated kneecap.

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Where the defense prospects stand

Before Friday’s draft it’s a good idea to take stock of what the Rangers already have in the system.  If New York follows suit, then the Blueshirts will pick the best player available regardless of position.  However, it’s worth evaluating where the team’s strengths lie. Kevin evaluated the forwards, so let’s look at the defense.

Tim Erixon

Erixon has been met with a lot of hype since the Rangers stole him (along with what turned out to be Shane McColgan) from Calgary for two second round picks and Roman Horak last year. After two successful seasons with Skelleftea HC in the SEL, Erixon came over to the NHL and was expected to make the club without any time in the AHL, which is exactly what happened. That said, Erixon struggled during his first NHL stint in October, finishing with no points and a -3 rating in nine games before being sent to the Connecticut Whale. Those nine games would be Erixon’s longest stint with the big club, but all was not lost. Erixon dominated the AHL, finishing with 33 points (3-30-33) in 42 games). The Swede is as NHL ready as you can get. Barring a major setback, he should be a Ranger next fall.

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McIlrath, Miller, Erixon, and six others called up

Yesterday the Rangers announced that they had recalled nine six players from the Connecticut Whale of the AHL. The Whale were eliminated from Calder Cup contention last week, and the nine six players called up will serve as the “taxi squad.” As per Andrew Gross, they will practice separately from the current roster.

The players called up include:

G – Cameron Talbot

D – Tim Erixon, Dylan McIlrath

F – J.T. Miller, Casey Wellman, Kris Newbury, Chad Kolarik, Marek Hrivik, Jonathan Audy-Marchessault

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McIlrath joins Connecticut on ATO

As expected, Dylan McIlrath (1st-2010) will be joining the Connecticut Whale for their playoff push on an ATO. Whale’s Moose Jaw Warriors were eliminated from the WHL playoffs over the weekend by fellow Rangers’ prospect Michael St. Croix and the Edmonton Oil Kings.

McIlrath played with the Whale on an ATO last season as well. In two games, he finished with seven PIMs and a -1 rating.

St. Croix advances to WHL Finals

When we last checked in with the Rangers prospects, two of their highest ranking prospects were squaring off in the WHL’s Eastern Conference Finals. Michael St. Croix (4th-2011) of the Edmonton Oil Kings and Dylan McIlrath (1st-2010) of the Moose Jaw Warriors were about to match up in a series that definitely caught the attention of some Ranger fans. St. Croix lit up the WHL this year, finishing in the top ten in scoring, while McIlrath is a noted bruiser who plays a shut down game.

In the end, the scoring of St. Croix’s Oil Kings was too much for McIlrath’s Warriors, winning the series in five games. St. Croix had two goals and two assists in the five games, upping his playoff total to a line of 5-7-12 in 13 games.

As for McIlrath, he had one assist in the series. Even though scoring isn’t really McIlrath’s style, he still managed to rack up six assists in the 14 games he played in the postseason. He also finished with 12 PIMs and a +3 rating (although he was -4 in the Edmonton series).

In the immediate future, McIlrath might wind up joining the Connecticut Whale on an ATO, much like he did last season. As for St. Croix, he will be headed to the WHL Finals against Portland, with the winner advancing to the Memorial Cup.

Prospect Update: McIlrath vs. St. Croix in WHL Eastern Conference Finals

With the playoffs in full gear for both the Rangers and the Whale –and with the Whale adding a large number of CHL prospects for the playoff push– we have been neglecting the prospect coverage a bit here. But, good friend of the blog Jess Rubenstein of The Prospect Park has noted that two of the Rangers top prospects are about to square off in the WHL Eastern Conference Finals.

Dylan McIlrath (1st-2010) and his Moose Jaw Warriors will be facing Michael St. Croix (4th – 2011) and his Edmonton Oil Kings. McIlrath is a well noted bruiser and dominating physical presence that the Rangers drafted despite some more offensively talented players available. McIlrath started to prove doubters wrong this past preseason as he impressed almost every fan with a great few preseason games.

As for St. Croix, all he did was put up 105 points (45-60-105) this year with Edmonton. The WHL is a notoriously high scoring league, so his numbers need to be taken with a grain of salt, but it’s rare that 18 year olds put up those numbers in the WHL. Usually those numbers are reserved for the older players in their age 20 or overage (21) season.

This is a great matchup for the Rangers prospects. It will give McIlrath an opportunity to show what he can do against top scorers. It will give St. Croix an opportunity to see what he can do against a top defender. It will also give the fans an opportunity to see if St. Croix is the real deal, or if his numbers are inflated.

It’s rare that the Rangers have two top prospects squaring off so deep in the playoffs. This is definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Musings: The Deadline Day Edition

Reasons to Trust Mr Sather: Dan Girardi, Marc Staal, Ryan McDonagh, Mike Del Zotto, Mike Sauer. Thanks to Glen Sather and the Rangers scouting department this club has a wealth of depth on the blue line, with a fair bit in reserve. Note that top 5; all young and all have ability either side of the puck.

You may have noted the direction that first point was going in. Rick Nash. If the rumoured package for Nash does indeed include Dylan McIlrath you don’t let it break down because of his inclusion. I’m sure he’ll be a fine player but thanks to the depth discussed above, he’s a luxury the team can afford to move.

Christian Thomas in a Nash package as well? Also Fine. If Nash became a Ranger – and with Kreider deemed untouchable – not to mention Gaborik, Anisimov, Stepan and Callahan firmly entrenched in the top six (at present), Thomas becomes buried on the depth chart and like McIlrath is a luxury the team can afford to move. All thanks to quality drafting and patience in the organisation folks.

Assuming the Rangers current roster wants to show Sather, his staff and the coaching team no major changes are needed they’re sure going about it the wrong way aren’t they? Three poor games in a row, team wide poor decision making and once again an over reliance on shot blocking and a certain goaltender in net.

Dear Brandon Dubinsky, you must really like the thought of playing out your contract in Ohio. Hey, at least the rock and roll Hall of Fame is a short drive away. When the Rangers are trying to make the playoffs, at this rate you’ll be getting tickets to see Guns N Roses inducted. Buck your ideas up.

The Rangers made Marc-Andre Fleury look good the other night; far too much perimeter play. It’s one thing to get pucks on net but there really is no point if you’re not creating traffic, looking for rebounds and generally making a goalie’s night harder than Fleury’s.

Back to Deadline day thoughts: The Rangers do not need to address the defense. Even if Mike Sauer’s not particularly close to returning, the Rangers block shots, do a good job of allowing Lundqvist to see most shots and are better at moving bodies than most give them credit for. I’d rather use assets to upgrade the offense instead of trying to make a great unit even better.

I really want to know who has the final say on the powerplay. Tortorella? Obviously Allaire is in charge of the league’s best goaltending unit. Does Mike Sullivan assume responsibility? Is it shared amongst the coaching duo or do the ‘special assistants’ (guys like Messier) have a major influence? I know it’s hard to grumble too much given the team’s record but there is plenty of talent on the roster to at least have a top 15 powerplay unit. Maybe changes need to be made elsewhere. Maybe…

Gaborik has 4 goals in his last 20 games. He’s not finishing but he’s still playing well. He’s making plays, creating goals and getting assists. The lack of goal scoring may be because teams are zoning in on him now that goal scoring has begun to dry up elsewhere. Could a Nash-like addition free Gaborik up some more? Absolutely

Question Time

  • Are you vehemently behind keeping Brandon Dubinsky and his 6 goals for 4.2m?
  • Do you start Martin Biron against the Islanders or, given the team’s recent play, do you go ‘all-in’ to make sure you get a win (and go with the King)?
  • Do you think the Rangers make a major addition before the deadline?
  • Which of the top four defensemen on the current roster, not inc. Sauer due to injury, is the most expendable all things considered? (i.e. skill set, age, reliance, upside)
  • Can the Rangers win multiple playoff rounds without adding more scoring?

Food for thought: Despite the roster purge of 2003-04 and given the way the Rangers entire organisation has developed in the past five years, is this potentially the most fundamentally-changing deadline day in the Sather era?

Without question, the Islanders game is huge Friday night for so many reasons. Above all (regardless of deadline day potential) the team needs to avoid any losing streaks getting out of hand. Especially given how the Devils and Pens have been playing.

Final Thought: Antoine Vermette. Steve Downie. Their trades have nothing to do with the Rangers? Wrong. Brandon Dubinsky is better than both players. He also has more upside. Yet Vermette essentially got shipped out for a 2nd plus change while Downie got moved for a package that included a first round pick. When discussions about Nash come to a head Sather can point to these two players’ value in regard to Dubinsky and that could help establish a package for Nash – or any other significant trade. The Vermette and Downie deals have a massive knock on effect to the likes of Dubinsky. Any good GM will have taken note.

Prospect Watch: Thomas Returns

This week saw the return to game action of Christian Thomas, who has been sitting out thanks to the ten game suspension the OHL threw his way. His return was in the Subway Super Series against the Russian national team, as Thomas represented the OHL (Team Russia plays against each CHL league).

Thomas did not disappoint, grabbing an assist on the game winner and adding a goal near the end as the OHL team beat the Russians 6-3  in Sault Ste. Marie after racing to a 6-0 lead. While it was a good return to action for Thomas it’s hard to gauge the level of opponents as the Russian team is never the strongest available.  In this instance it didn’t feature some of the quality prospects expected to be lottery picks, or first rounder’s in 2012. Regardless, Thomas will be happy with his return to the ice and will look to kick off from here and be a difference maker once more for Oshawa.

Dylan McIlrath may have missed a few games earlier this season but is putting together a pretty solid season for Moose Jaw in the WHL. Despite being pointless and on the losing side on Saturday (MJ lost 3-2 to Swift Current), McIlrath got in to a fight and played his typical brand of physical hockey. With 5 points (2 goals) in 11 games so far this year McIlrath is already only 3 goals off his total from last year.

Quick Hits:

  • Chris Kreider and Boston College got whipped, losing 5-0 to Boston University on Sunday. It’s never good to lose to your neighbours. BC was inept on the powerplay, going 0-8 while Kreider finished the game -1 with just one shot to his name. BC will look to move on immediately next week when they travel for a non conference tilt with Notre Dame.
  • JT Miller continues to be both productive and consistent. The first round pick grabbed 6 points and went +5 in 3 games last week for his surging Plymouth side. Miller now has 25 points in 21 games for the season – an impressive introduction to major junior.
  • Scott Stajcer may not be winning games but his play is getting better. The goalie is 2-3-2 in 7 games but sits at .922 % and a 2.54GAA. Considering how inflated those numbers were just a few short weeks ago Stajcer is doing all he can to stay relevant in a tricky situation in Owen Sound.
  • Shane McColgan may have 20 points in 19 games for Kelowna in the WHL but -9 is never a good thing to have on your record.
  • Jesper Fasth has slowed down from his great start to the year as he has 14 points in 18 games with HV71 of the SEL. Fasth is scoreless in multiples games however it has still been a very encouraging season for the young winger already.
  • Andrew Yogan and the Peterborough Petes sit second in the East Division of the OHL and Yogan – and Peter Čerešňák – have played their part. Čerešňák has a solid 7 points in 19 games from the blueline while Yogan has 14 in 18 up front. Perhaps more should be expected from Yogan, an over-ager but there is still a long way to go in the season for Yogan to make his case for the pro-ranks next season.