Posts tagged: Dylan McIlrath

What Happens If Del Zotto Doesn’t Rebound?

The question at hand is a lot less daunting than it was during last season when the young defenseman stumbled through his second season. It’s less daunting now thanks to the acquisition of two way prospect Tim Erixon, however the question is still a valid one; how would the Rangers react if Del Zotto can’t find his game again?

Del Zotto having another bad year would likely bottom out his trade value and leave the Rangers with little organisational (pure) offense from the blue line as Erixon is seen as a two way presence whereas Del Zotto is the more dynamic, offensive type. Would another bad year mean the end of MDZ’s tenure with the Rangers? We saw what happened to Bobby Sanguinetti once it was clear to management that he’d never make it as a Ranger. Now granted, the situations are pretty different as Del Zotto has already proven he has what it takes to succeed at the NHL level but it can’t be denied that he’d be on shaky ground, to an extent.

Del Zotto’s future seems closely entwined with Tim Erixon’s. Considered NHL ready, if Erixon comes into camp and blows everyone away, coupled with anything less than his own impressive camp, Del Zotto will almost certainly begin the year in the AHL and it could be a long way back. Again, with an impressive camp from Erixon you can easily imagine the Rangers being a lot more open to trading the young Canadian defenseman while they still can.

Assuming Del Zotto doesn’t start well (for the record I’d be patient with him as his upside is very impressive) and the Rangers do indeed look to other players ahead of MDZ, would that impact the Rangers draft tendencies next summer? As mentioned, there is very little offensive help on the blue line in the system and with several Rangers forwards progressing nicely it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Rangers go down the defenseman draft route once again.

All of a sudden a poor MDZ exposes a few holes in the system. All of a sudden, next summer the Rangers may have a few big holes to plug. The team is still in need of drafting a goalie or two as the organisational depth is minimal while suddenly the Rangers need to find offense from the back.  Of course, again assuming the worst, the Rangers have depth at the NHL (and NHL ready) level and could easily deal a player such as Dan Girardi or a young forward for help instead of going the draft route, but of course dealing players away for help is never ideal.

Of course there’s another trail of thought. An impressive Erixon from the get-go may allow the Rangers to show (brave?) patience with Del Zotto and let him work through his issues with an entire season in the AHL. There’s no reason why Del Zotto couldn’t play a full year in the A and then make it back to the NHL. Plenty of elite defensemen have spent significant time learning and refining their games in the second tier (think Duncan Keith for starters), the only difference would be that Del Zotto got to the NHL via the NHL.

With plenty of forwards progressing nicely as well as rugged D-men such as Dylan McIlrath and Pavel Valentenko on deck, the Rangers may be posed with an interesting decision or two over the next 12 months with regards to their personnel decisions. Here’s hoping Del Zotto takes one decision out of the management’s hands.

Free Agency Musings!

It’s Musings Thursday. The day before Free Agency so that makes this the Free Agent edition of Musings. See what I did there? I’m a genius I tell thee….

I wanted to tell you all that today was Christmas Eve and that we would all be excited like little children for tomorrow morning. Someone got to it before me but the thought remains. I’m so excited. Are you?

Inconvenient: I’m moving apartments tomorrow. Location is a massive upgrade but in terms of Free Agency it’s a huge pain in the ass. Moving all my stuff to a place with no internet connection for two weeks on free agency day? Sweet Jesus! My dad is getting an unexpected visitor tomorrow as I use and abuse his internet connection all day. No way do I miss Free Agency day.

Brad Richards. Everyone has taken their guess at where he goes, for how long and most importantly for how much. I think the Rangers offer him 6 years and 42 million. Does he take it? I think so but the Rangers (in my humble opinion) will not be competing against themselves even if they are the best fit.

Random moment of the day: Driving to the garage to get my car fixed – for the second time in a week! – and a Mercedes drove past me with the private licence plate: CD NMC.  I kid you not. Has Chris Drury and his No Movement Clause come all the way over to the UK to get away from it all?

Fact: The Rangers will be considerably better after July 1st than it is today. Of that, I am convinced.

Over/Under on Rangers free agent signings? With the over/under being 2 I’m saying over. I think they bring in two new faces (including Mr Richards) and bring back one of their own free agents.

A few players have got new (temporary?) homes this past few days. Let’s discuss them. James Wisniewski; I know a lot of you guys wanted him on the Rangers but the defense (barring a depth addition) is set. The West got tougher though, because if Columbus can sign him up and they have Carter to go with Nash then this team is definitely a playoff team in my opinion. Or is it? The West remains stacked.

Christian Ehrhoff; First the Isles and now the Sabres. First things first he is a good defenseman that is about to be handsomely overpaid. I know plenty of people will have laughed at the Islanders inability to sign him but in the end it didn’t cost them to try so kudos for being aggressive. Speaking of aggressive, if the Sabres sign him they become much better. Given the new owners ambition don’t rule them out of the Richards sweepstakes, assuming BR would be willing to play there.

  • You want examples of Free Agency being shallow this year? The deals for Tomas Kopecky, Chad Larose and David Jones were very generous to say the least, especially Kopecky’s.

Jaromir Jagr. He loves the attention doesn’t he? If he signs with the Pens that’s bad news for the Rangers as he’s in the division and makes the Pens much better. They say the deal is stalling. Some say it’s because he wants to come back to New York. This is the guy that was the first hockey $100m earner. If I’m Sather I welcome him back IF he will play for league minimum. Money shouldn’t be a factor for him.

Beyond Free Agency: Prospect Camp has been interesting. A lot of players have impressed. Andrew Yogan looks like a keeper; strong on the puck with good size. He’ll impress for the Whale if he plays a full year there. Ryan Bourque has impressed, Fasth and Thomas are scoring goals, McIlrath is playing both ends of the ice well and Erixon has displayed some slick puck movement. All bodes well.

On McIlrath: He’s taking responsibility over? Hard to gauge amongst fellow kids but the fact the player covets the role of leader bodes well. If he can improve his skating he may be in New York sooner rather than later. I had him tabbed for the MSG no earlier than 2 more years but if he’s growing as a personality and his skating catches up to his size is it a long shot that he makes it next year? Not at all.

  • Hall of Fame Selection: I may be biased but I think Eric Lindros deserves entry eventually. This year’s class was a good one though and given the candidates next year he’s going to have to wait a while longer. Does Pavel Bure deserve it? Yes.

Good luck in retirement to Todd Marchant and Paul Kariya. In very different ways both were very good NHL’ers. Kariya for a while was truly elite while Marchant is an ex Ranger.

I purposely got to the end of this Musings post without discussing the Chris Drury buy-out. I’m the bigger man! Enjoy Free Agency people. Fingers crossed!! Go RANGERS (welcome, Brad).


HF: Rangers “Loaded” In Juniors

The Rangers upper management sure has been busy this month.  In all, the Rangers have signed six prospects out of the Canadian Juniors, with only one eligible player (Dan Maggio) remaining unsigned.  Leslie Treff at HockeysFuture took an in-depth look at the nine prospects that the Rangers had in juniors, which includes the six signed and three unsigned (including Maggio).  Treff predicts that only one player has a legitimate shot at making the club next year (Christian Thomas), while another top prospect (Dylan McIlrath) is likely headed back to Juniors.

It’s tough to disagree with Leslie here when it comes to where the prospects wind up.  Due to age restrictions, Thomas is either going to play for the Rangers or return to the OHL.  At the risk of repeating myself, I still think he makes the squad outright.  McIlrath is also a lock to be returned to the WHL.  As for the other players that signed (Ryan Bourque, Roman Horak, Scott Stajcer, Jason Wilson), all four will be spending at least one season with the CT Whale, as Leslie states in her article.

Where things get interesting are with Maggio, Randy McNaught, and Andrew Yogan. Treff states that Maggio likely will not be offered a contract, which means the Rangers rights to sign him will expire next week.  I am a little disappointed to hear that, because once Maggio was traded to Oshawa (Thomas’ club), he showed vast improvement in his game.  I was hoping he would be signed, and to be honest, I assumed he would be.  However, it appears that the Rangers are done signing their prospects, which leaves him out of the bigger picture.

McNaught, who was initially drafted to be a tough guy for the Rangers, he suffered a sever ankle injury that required surgery.  With last season being his over-age season in Canadian Juniors, he cannot return there next year.  Treff states that he likely will not be given an entry level deal because of this.

As for Yogan, the Rangers will retain his rights for at least another year, as he was a 2010 draftee who was not in his overage year in the CHL.  Yogan has talent, but his shoulder injury really hampered the Rangers decision making ability.  He played well in his ATO with the CT Whale this year, registering three points in two games.  With the Rangers approaching the 50 contract limit, there is no need to sign Yogan now, especially when there is a significant shoulder issue.

In regards to long-term development of these prospects, Thomas is the only one likely to be with the Rangers next season.  McIlrath is also going to be a Ranger at some point (barring a significant trade).  Stajcer’s path is blocked by Henrik Lundqvist, so the best case scenario is that he becomes either a viable backup for The King.  Bourque, Horak, and Wilson will likely be in CT for at least a season and a half, possibly longer.  None really project out to be top-six guys at the NHL level.  It doesn’t mean they aren’t useful pieces though.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of them packaged in a bigger deal.

Rangers Prospects Stepping Up For the Whale

A season of promise at every level for the Rangers organisation seems to be continuing for the prospects. Recently signed to short term contracts following their junior seasons, 2010 top pick Dylan McIlrath and fellow draftee Andrew Yogan have already made their presence felt in the AHL.

In their first pro game they couldn’t have made more of an impression. Injured for most of the year, Yogan made a spectacular impact scoring twice even though the Whale lost to Bridgeport on Saturday night, 4-3. Not to be outdone however was McIlrath. The big defenseman got into a fight, which he won, and was a laying numerous hits throughout the game to play a very physical game in his pro debut. Both young players showed remarkable confidence and ability in their pro debuts. Indeed, Mitch Beck of Howlings noted that he was very impressed with McIlrath’s play.

While the Whale lost their regular season finale to the Admirals on Sunday, Yogan once more found a way to get involved offensively. The big center notched an assist to cap his minor league cameo off in impressive style. Overall the Rangers pick grabbed 3 points in 2 games and went +1. In the Admiral game, McIlrath had a shot and was -1 for the night. Other prospects also pitched in during the game. Pavel Valentenko (not to be forgotten amid all the rookie defensemen hysteria in New York) had 1+1 to finish the year with 17 points and an excellent +21 for the year. Some opinions suggest he may get a long look in training camp for the Rangers. At 6’2 and 220lbs, with a cannon of a shot and a physical game, Valentenko would be a welcome addition if he could make the grade next year.

Quietly having a solid second year is Evgeny Grachev. He may not have dominated at the AHL level or even managed to keep up with the (unfair?) level of expectancy but Grachev notched an assist against Norfolk to finish the year with 38 points, a +21 (compared to a – 13 the year before) and more shots in less games over the year so there has been decent progress made this season. With the few games of NHL experience he managed to grab, Grachev should be well stocked to make an impact next year, perhaps at both levels. 2 years of pro seasoning, further acclimatising to the language and being carefully monitored by Rangers staff should really allow for a decent camp for the big Russian. There could be a spot there for the taking.

Still on the Rangers bubble is Dale Weise. In a season where Weise played in the NHL and AHL as well as suffering through injury he managed to finish with 38 points in 47 games to make sure everyone remembers the big body has an offensive side to his game. Weise should have a chance at a bottom 6 roster spot next camp but he will need to be wary of the prospects fast developing in the organisation also looking for spots.

Playoff Time

The Whale will begin their playoff schedule against Portland in the first round. Game 1 will be on Thursday 14th while the first two games are held in Portland. It will be an upset if the Whale can win (similar to the Rangers series vs. Washington) as Portland finished top of both teams’ division with an impressive 47 win, 103 point season. Portland will likely be led by Luke Adam and NHL veteran Mark Parrish as two of the team’s better offensive players are up with the Sabres in the NHL playoffs. It should be an interesting series to see how the Rangers prospects step up against quality opposition.

McIlrath To Join Whale This Week

According to the AHL transactions page , the Rangers have signed 2010 first round pick Dylan McIlrath to an Amateur Tryout (ATO) agreement with the Connecticut Whale. Per Brian Ring McIlrath is expected to report to the team this week. McIlrath, 18, had 5 goals, 18 assists and 153 penalty minutes in 62 games during the regular season for the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL. In the playoffs McIlrath was scoreless in their six game first round defeat to the Kooteany Ice.

The ATO allows McIlrath to play with the team this season and during the playoffs without having any impact on his entry-level contract which officially starts next season. Dylan is allowed to play in the AHL despite being under 20 because his Junior team has finished their season, but next season he will have to either be in the NHL or back in the WHL.  Being around the professional game should be a very good experience for McIlrath and give him another sense of what it will take for him to be a professional player. Look for Wade Redden to take McIlrath under his wing as he has done with all the young defenders for the Whale this season.

Prospect Watch

Plenty more prospect news to report from the past week but first of all a reminder that three Rangers prospects face Russia in the Subway Super-series on Thursday representing the OHL. Ethan Werek, Christian Thomas and goalie Scott Stajcer are all slated to play for the OHL side, it will be interesting to see how they fare.

Back to prospect performances and the hottest current prospect is probably Ryan Bourque of the Quebec Remparts. After their incredible start the Remparts are 0-2-1 in their last three but Bourque has continued to produce. On Saturday Bourque netted his 9th assist but his side dropped the decision, 3-2 to Montreal. The diminutive Bourque has now tallied 7+9 in just 12 games on the season.

A player who has got better as his season has worn on is Carl Hagelin. After a modest, penalty minute filled start the Swedish prospect has now got 3+7 in 10 games  as he grabbed 2 assists as his Wolverines won 5-2 in Alaska. Hagelin continues to look like a strong prospect and hopefully can help the beleaguered Hartford offense next year as he grows into an NHL player.

Another player that is becoming as reliable as a Swiss watch is Ethan Werek. As his OHL Kingston side has climbed into the division lead Werek has continued to rack up points. On Saturday Werek grabbed an assist and a shootout goal as his side won 3-2 against Bellville in the SO and he’s  now got 21 points for the year. If the talented center can do something about the slightly ugly +/- rating he’ll have himself a very fine season to take in to his pro career.

Over the Atlantic and Jesper Fasth is trying to stick with the men’s club of HV71.  After playing strongly back in junior, Fasth now has 1+1 and a +2 rating in 14 games for the big club. Fasth won’t be seen for a while in America as he’s a project and will be given a chance to fully develop in Sweden unless he has a real spike in his development.

The best news of recent prospect play is the constant improvement of Dylan Mcilrath. The 2010 1st round pick has played strong hockey both ends for a few weeks now and in 18 games this season is now 2+5 and has an even rating. More than the stats though are his team’s performances. After a very slow start to their year the Moose Jaw Warriors are on a 6-0-0 streak and have an overall record of 10-8-0-1 to surge into 2nd place in their WHL division. It will be fun watching Mcilrath continue to try and lead his club throughout the year. The Rangers could use his physicality sooner rather than later.

Key Prospect Stats:

Ryan Bourque 12 GP 7G 9A 16pts +5 5PIMS

Roman Horak 15 GP 10G 13A 23pts +2 16PIMS

Dylan Mcilrath 18GP 2G 5A 7pts E+/- 37PIMS

Christian Thomas 15GP 11G 10A 21pts+8 9PIMS

Ethan Werek 16GP 11G 10A 21pts -4 22PIMS

Carl Hagelin 10GP 3G 7A 10pts +6 21PIMS

Chris Kreider 8GP 2G 1A 3pts -4 6PIMS

Jesper Fasth 14GP 1G 1A 2pts +2 2PIMS

Scott Stajcer  12GP 9wins 2L 2.65GAA .911SV%

Prospect Focus: Dylan Mcilrath

‘The Undertaker’ had endured a slow start to his season after he was perhaps surprisingly returned to Moose Jaw early by the Rangers. The last week however has seen the Rangers number 1 pick in the 2010 draft start to turn his season around. After going scoreless in his first 8 games Mcilrath has contributed offensively recently which had coincided with Moose Jaw winning back to back games for the first time this season. During those two games Mcilrath contributed 3 assists and had improved his rating to -6.

On Tuesday night Moose Jaw beat the Saskatoon Blades 5-1 with Mcilrath grabbing two helpers and going +2. Prior to the win over the Blades, the Warriors had beaten the Kootenay Ice 6-3, a game which saw Mcilrath get 1 assist, 5 PIMS while going +1. The back to back wins had helped Moose Jaw’s record improve to 4-7. The win over the Blades on Tuesday was a sign that the Warriors may be turning things around because the Blades are leading the division with an 8-2 record so the win was a particularly impressive one.  According to the Moose Jaw Times Herald newspaper the Warriors have been suffering through many injuries recently so that may have played a big part in their poor start to their season.

The Warriors also had a second midweek game, playing at home to Medicine Hat on Wednesday. Despite losing 3-2 the Warriors were able to grab a point as they tied it up with 10.3 seconds left in regulation and grabbed the losers point in the shoot-out. Mcilrath wasn’t able to contribute offensively on this occasion. The big D-man went -1, scoreless, whilst taking a minor penalty. Another 2010 first round pick, Emerson Etem scored against Mcilrath’s Warriors.

While Mcilrath wasn’t drafted for his offensive skills if he can contribute offensively and develop his offensive game before he makes it to NY, then the Rangers could have a serious weapon on their hands. At 6’5 and 215lbs and willing to use every last inch of that frame, Mcilrath has the ability to be dominating. Rangers fans will need to patient however as Mcilrath, realistically, is at least 2-3 years away but the wait could very much be worth it.

Dylan McIlrath = YouTube Sensation

Hello all.  After a long hiatus, I’m finally back doing posts here.  Forgive my almost year-long absence.  The recent NHL entry draft seemed like a good enough transition point for me to re-enter the blogosphere, and something about a recent top-10 pick has me pretty riled up…
A lot is being said about the Rangers newest first-round pick, Dylan McIlrath, the brutish teenage defenseman from Moose Jaw (Canadian city names, eh?).  While the move perplexed the majority of us Blueshirt fanatics, I quite honestly didn’t know how to feel about it.  That was until I did some research of my own over the weekend.  After undertaking the usual Google search of our newest defenseman, I decided I wanted to see some full-motion video and went on over to YouTube.  I was at first quite shocked to realize that a seemingly obscure 18 year old Canadian junior hockey player had more than one link to his credit on the world’s most popular video site.  Then, I was flat out impressed by what I saw.  The common theme in these videos: nobody gets the best of this kid.  Was particularly moved by the fight with John Stampohar (same build, and 2 years his elder).  What’s more impressive is that you see him come to the aid of his teammates in a few of these videos.  Maybe Dan Carcillo would have thought twice about mixing it up with Marian Gaborik if a player like this was an established presence on the ice at the time. That to me is equally important than any plus/minus or point total.  You can only hope that with NHL level coaching, this kid can one day blossom into what Chris Pronger has been throughout his career

McIlrath Is A Solid Pick

Well that was a bit of a surprising pick for the Rangers, no? With players like Brandon Gormley, Cam Fowler, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Emerson Etem available, the Rangers shocked their fans, and many at the draft, by selecting tough guy Dylan McIlrath. I was at a wedding yesterday, but I got the news from a few texts (thanks guys), and many were pissed at this move.

I have the luxury of not reacting until this morning, as I could not react last night (it’s impossible to get worked up over a draft at a wedding). The two gaping holes on the Rangers right now is scoring and physical defensemen. With players like Artem Anisimov, Evgeny Grachev, Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider, and Ethan Werek already emerging as the top prospects in the system, the Rangers seem to be covered for the future with scoring.

Then you have to look at the defense. The Rangers have one of the best defenders in the league in Marc Staal. They have an up and coming star as an offensive defenseman in Michael Del Zotto. They have depth at both of those positions in Bobby Sanguinetti and Dan Girardi. What the Rangers truly lacked was a physical, mean, tough defenseman. In the system they have Ryan McDonagh, but that is really putting all your eggs into one basket.

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