The date was June 25, 2010 and the New York Rangers held the 10th pick in the NHL Entry Draft. Instead of going with some more notable names like Cam Fowler, Jack Campbell, Brandon Gormley or Emerson Etem, Gordie Clark and co. went off the board with the hulking, bruising and nasty Dylan McIlrath. He was considered a project at the time, but would be the stay-at-home, crease-clearing defenseman the organization coveted so badly.
Fast forward three years to the present. McIlrath has yet to crack the team, but may be as poised as ever to do so this September.
Dylan McIlrath says "I think I have a legitimate shot" of making Rangers out of training camp. "The knee is not an excuse anymore."— Andrew Gross (@AGrossRecord) July 1, 2013
The knee being the dislocation suffered last summer at the Rangers' prospect camp by Kyle Jean. It took a year out of McIlrath's development, but it hasn't stopped him for working his tail off in his recovery. With the Rangers going in a different direction under new head coach Alain Vigneault, a bruiser himself in his brief NHL stint, McIlrath's physical intangibles could be needed on the backline.
It's no secret the Rangers drafted McIlrath with Jeff Beukeboom in mind. The defensive anchor to Brian Leetch during the Rangers' Cup run and hay days turned assistant coach with the Hartford Wolfpack, Beukeboom played a no-nonsense game, stuck up for teammates and dared any opponent to get near his goalie Mike Richter. It's the same desire the Rangers will have with McIlrath and Beukeboom has been his mentor down in the AHL over the past year.
It's also no secret the Rangers hired Ulf Samuelsson to Vigneault's staff this week with McIlrath in mind, as well. Samuelsson was also a tough customer, playing borderline (putting it nicely) dirty in his 16 year NHL career racking up 2,453 PIMs in 1080 career games. The Rangers have lacked that desire to protect their goalie at all costs and, at times, deliver the big hit when needed. Arguably, the team was at their best when they were a tough opponent to play against. Samuelsson' job will be to bring out that desire in his defense and there isn't a better mold to work with than McIlrath.
A lot will need to go right for McIlrath to be on the varsity squad next season. The Rangers, after signing all their RFAs, will have seven defensemen (including recently acquired Justin Falk) for next season. Perhaps a trade is on the horizon since the Blueshirts are tight against the salary cap and have a glut of defensemen. If not, Dylan McIlrath will go into training camp having plenty of competition and needing to prove his skating and foot speed along with his positioning are NHL ready.
It typically takes defensemen to develop longer than other position in hockey. But, it has been three years since the Rangers took a chance drafting Dylan McIlrath. The coaches are in place to help him succeed at the next level.
His time in the NHL is now.
6'5", 215lbs is a lot to control for a just turned 21yr old. He will be a late bloomer like Charra. Charra looked like a 5yr old skating when he stepped into the NHL. Now Boston is laughing at the Islanders and the Senators for passing him on to them. Most big guys take a little bit to be able to control and trust themselves... especially in the feet department when you have guys like Haglien coming at you with those quick shifty feet. He will get there but its gunna take time. And believe me, there is nobody else I'd rather see than him in front of Hank this year...
Islanders buyout Dipietro... in what sick world are the Isles willing to spend more moneY than the NYR to put together a great hockey team...
Give the kid a break! He dislocated his knee last year and he only played part of the season in the minors. His knee is STILL healing. He will start in AHL and maybe after 1/2 season, he might be ready. Rangers have ruined more young players by playing them in the NHL before they were ready. They have to learn while playing with the big team. Look at DelZotto. Imagine where he would be today if he played a couple of years in the AHL. Patience.
I don't care how young...how raw..6' 5" 230 .who can throw haymakers and crosscheck backs in front of the king is what we need. Pair him with G man or Mac truck. They will hide is faults and let him run motherf##kers into the boards! !
Dmac has to first prove he can play in the AHL b4 we talk about NHL. He hasn't come close to that yet so how can anyone think he's going to make the team out of training camp.
I hope the kid is ready though Ice heard otherwise. Probably a mid-season injury replacement.. I hear Falk is pretty nasty. Future Beuk/Wells scenario? No one is hoping more than Hank I'm sure
If anyone knows I would love to know what the current timetable is for Skjei and Nieves. I know they are still at least 2 years away probably but am interested. Could Nieves do what Kreider did his junior year?
We all want the kid to succeed but because of his overall natural skill set it's obviously going to take him longer than say a McDonaugh...we all want the best prospects to be awesome now but patience is a virtue. I'd consider it a win if he's capable of playing a reliable, yet somewhat physical 12-15 minutes a nite on the bottom pair by season's end.
Gordie Clark said today in an interview he wants Dylan in the AHL for the first half of the season so he can get a regular shift every night, and continue to recover from his knee injury and mature.
I fear for the worst with McIlrath. I thought it was a real reach at the time and nothing I've heard has done anything to assuage that over the last 3 years. And unless we move Del Zotto (man, wouldn't that be great?) he doesn't even have a chance to sniff the big-boy club.
ok so we'll have to look at MDZ another year while the guy who can possibly even the gap between us getting abused or being a deterrent sits in Hartford...I know one thing, whenever he makes the team, he won't be Torts whipping boy...
I think he needs another half season to full season in the AHL. Working with Beuekeboom & playing real minutes (17-20 per game) i think will round out his game. Obviously working out any skating issues he may have, can't be done at the NHL level,it's just too fast & i don't want the kids confidence crushed. I still feel he can be a top 4 D man in the vein of Brooks Orpick as far as current NHL D Men go. Maybe dropping the gloves more early on .
I can't wait for this kid to patrol the defensive zone and I'm pulling for him to make the squad. However, if it's true that his biggest area for improvement is skating, it make it tough to believe that he's made (no pun intended) strides in that area when his knee is not even 100% yet. I say he starts in Hartford and gets a call-up in November/December, or whenever one of the others goes down.
Regardless of the insistance of some, John Tortorella did not play favorites. That being said, John Tortorella is also a human, and like any human, John Tortorella is going to have biases, even if subtle. This head coaching change, as with any coaching change in any sport, means a clean slate for every player. If Dylan McIlrath outplays Anton Stralman in training camp then Dylan McIlrath may very well be in the lineup on opening night while Stralman is in the press box.
I think the Rangers will give McIlrath every opportunity to earn his place in the lineup, but I think the end product will be him starting the year in Hartford again. Hardly the worst thing for him. Still, I think he's going to get his first NHL game in at some point this season, and it wouldn't be surprising if he earned his way to a more permanent roster spot through that road.
Don't see how he makes the team right now. With our current roster all 6 dmen are locked. Staal, Girardi, Mcdonagh, Stralman, Moore, DZ will all be on the roster. He could potentially be the 7th dman, but I think this guy Falk being older and more developed has a better chance
@FREE LINDBERG You're just full of good news today - and I bet DiP is laughing all the way to the bank now. maybe the Pens will pick him up as they like talented but inconsistent goalies over there.
@Easy_Kreider damn I liked Newbury... he is going to be a flyer too... He was a better 4th liner than Asham, Powe or Pyatt. As for the d guy, just adding defensive depth I guess, never heard of him
@Richard Falconer Agree.. enough already. Many teams have dmen on their team with less than three years in the minors.. Either play him or admit another draft mistake.
Want to see how nieves does at the world junior camp. Would like to see him push for a spot in Hartford. Kid is fun to watch.
@gravey94 Agreed,as much as I would like to see what this kid can do in the NHL, I wouldn't want to sacrafice his development to rush him into the bigs.IMO we don't have the personell on this team to go for the cup this year. A.V. maybe a good coach but as thay say,the jockey is as good as the horse hi rides. Giving McIlrath another year in Hartford can only benefit him and the team as well.
@gravey94 I saw him play during the strike and he was awful. I can't see him making the team anytime soon. Definitely a couple of years away. This pick was a real reach. Basically Dale Purinton deja vu, and Purinton was the worst D man I saw.....
@Herman_NYRBlog right now, Stralman > Del Zotto
@Herman_NYRBlog Torts did not play favorites ? then how do you explain him dressing Stew Bickle over the likes of Eminger? IMO Tortorella is the most bias coach I have ever saw in 49 years of watching hockey. I'am absolutely thrilled that he is no longer assosiated with the Rangers. ( there maybe a little bias in me to feel like this about the man but what the hell, I can not stand the man and never coud.)
@Herman_NYRBlog I think Stralman earned a spot on the team. He's been better than Del Zotto consistently and at times outplayed Girardi. The Rangers suddenly seem to have defensive depth. The only way McIlrath cracks the roster is if Staal is still out.
@FREE LINDBERG Staal's eye injury throws a major curveball into everything. Until he's full recovered and playing, I can't factor him in.