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Posts tagged: Dylan McIlrath

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.

Prospect Watch: Consistency Abound

Rangers’ prospects are showing more offensive consistency this season than the players already donning red white and blue.

Mid round prospect Jesper Fasth continued his strong play over the past week and is averaging a point per game as we approach November. The Swedish youngster is now up to 14 points in 14 games for his HV71 side in the SEL and is second in the league in scoring. The SEL is a relatively low scoring league and is often veteran heavy in regard to the offensive leaders so it’s a great achievement for Fasth to be among the league’s best scorers.

Considering Fasth scored 16 points all of last season for HV71 it gives you a little more appreciation to quite how good his start has been. Indeed 16 points in 36 games was considered a solid year for a 19 year old in 09/10 so Fasth is really blossoming this season.

Another player impacting the box score on a consistent basis is Michael St Croix in the WHL. The Edmonton Oil King has 12 points in 13 games to go with a +1 rating and has notched a couple of PP goals as well. St Croix however will expect to kick on somewhat as the young center scored over a point/game last season with 75 in 68. With the Oil Kings sitting on an 8-3-1-1 record St Croix will hope to become the focal point of the in-form side.

Another player in the WHL is Shane McColgan and he’s another player that keeps troubling the scorers as he leads his Kelowna side with 14 points in 11 games. Unfortunately the -6 rating isn’t as impressive. McColgan looks like a good pick by the Rangers however, as he continues to produce despite his Rockets team struggling in 4th place in their division with a 4-7-1 record. McColgan will be looking to lead his side to a better record.

Quick Hit Time:

  • Dylan McIlrath has 3 points (1 goal) in 8 games for Moose Jaw the WHL to go with 18 PIMS and a -1 rating. Moose Jaw are hovering around the .500 mark so far this season. Rangers’ try-out Colin Bowman has 4 goals and an assist from the blueline for Mcilrath’s club.
  • Chris Kreider has 8 points (4+4) in 6 games as he continues his solid season for BC. Notoriously a slow starter it all bodes well for a very strong year from arguably the Rangers most important prospect. Hell, when available he may even slot straight into the top line LW spot in New York, such is the flux at the position.
  • He’s only played 3 games but uMass senior Danny Hobbs has 5 points in 3 games so far this season. Hobbs has made great strides offensively each season going from 2, to 9, to 28 total points. Given his start he could very well beat the 28 mark this year.
  • Despite an ugly -8 rating, Christian Thomas continues to pick up offensively and now has 10 points in 13 games. By all accounts Thomas is trying to do it all for his side and could benefit from stepping back slightly and concentrating on his own game. With a rookie goalie in net Oshawa appear to be building towards next season so don’t rule out Thomas becoming an appealing target for contenders in the OHL.
  • Scott Stajcer appears to be beginning to shake of the rust of the preseason as he has improved his personal stats for Owen Sound to a 1-2-0-1 record, with a 2.91GAA and a .901 save %. Given his first couple of starts those numbers aren’t bad. The problem for Stajcer is the three-headed monster that is the goaltending situation in Owen Sound whose 6-8-0-1 record is none too impressive.

Could Staal Mean Dylan?

With all the hullaballoo (love that word) surrounding Marc Staal’s physical condition, it’s worth pointing out once again the impressive depth the Rangers have at the defense position. Yes, I can hear the replies now of ‘none of them are Marc Staal’. Certainly true, at least at this stage of their careers they are not. However, what is worth noting is that there may not be a franchise in the league right now that could bear the brunt of missing their best blue liner better the Rangers can.

Obviously if Staal misses game time long term it puts a huge dent in the 2011-12 plans of the Rangers. I’d argue that he is just as important as a Gaborik, more important than a Dubinsky, and not far behind the level of importance Lundqvist has on this team. However, the Rangers have a stack of defensemen on the bubble of making the big club (sooner rather than later) that could fill in at least short term, even if it was in a reduced capacity.

Dave pointed out the other day how Pavel Valentenko may be on the roster and not in the AHL due to his contract status. Indeed Valentenko has the physical game and aggressiveness to keep the Rangers blueline nasty and with an appropriate physicality. You have the much discussed, even more anticipated Tim Erixon looking impressive each day, and the potential offensive whiz of Mike Del Zotto still around. Great potential, great depth.

Here’s the wild card in the Staal situation: don’t rule out the Rangers keeping Dylan McIlrath with the club if Staal were to miss some regular season time. It serves a few purposes. The Rangers get a full look at the big kid in ‘real’ NHL action. It gives him invaluable experience and could be done in the bottom pairing with another player moving up. Steve Eminger played admirably in a bigger role for a period last year, so it’s not daunting to think he could be needed to do it again this season even if it isn’t ideal.

Back to Dylan McIlrath. A lot of people may think he’s not NHL ready and he probably isn’t. He wasn’t a dominating presence at Traverse City and he’s not been a name flying off the tongue in camp either. However, when considering this potential opportunity to fill-in for Staal remember John Tortorella’s recent comments about infusing yet more talent in to the line up and further developing the youth. Giving McIlrath a 6-7 game look to begin the year does both. Hey, you may send him back to junior after a spell in NY, but take a look at what you have in the kid. We’ll get some more insight in to McIlrath’s readiness in today’s pre-season opener.

So how about Blake Parlett and Tomas Kundratek? Brendan Bell? Staal’s ‘injury’ scare is unfortunate, potentially crippling if it lingered, but if anything it should act as a carrot to the rest of the defensemen in camp that aren’t assured of a roster spot. In an odd way, the Staal situation could act as a great motivator to the rest and really crank up the competition. Players are playing for an NHL job, even if it’s short term. Once they’re there it’s a chance to stick with the team.

Given that I’m a risk taker, but at the same time an optimist, if the unfortunate scenario of Staal missing game time occurred, I’d give McIlrath a shot while taking a veteran such as Bell to Europe as well. You have the safety blanket of Bell being around but the opportunity to unleash what is (hopefully) a big part of the team’s future in McIlrath. Nothing ventured, nothing gained right?