With the New York Rangers looking to trade their former first round pick, we make a case as to why they should keep him.
With the 2016-17 NHL season set to open on Wednesday, the 30 teams around the NHL are working feverishly to trim their roster to 23 players. Many teams are still above that roster number. And of those 23, only 20 can dress for the game, so GM’s and coaching staffs are weighing potential and judging depth.
The New York Rangers are but one of 30 and their difficult question is which defenseman to let go of. So I am here to explain to the Ranger coaching staff that Dylan McIlrath should not only make the 23 man roster but dress him more than he sits.
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Standing 6 foot 5 inches tall and weighing in at 236 pounds, Dylan McIlrath is the most imposing defenseman the Blueshirts have had since Jeff Beukeboom laced up the skates. Ironically, Beukeboom coached McIlrath at Hartford and is now an Assistant Coach under Alain Vigneault with the Rangers. Given his size and strength, Dylan is the typical enforcer/defenseman that the Rangers have been lacking for a long while.
If I were coaching the Rangers, I would team Dylan up with Brady Skjei (pronounced Shea, as in stadium) and let them play to their strengths. Skjei, the smooth skater from the University of Minnesota would complement the strength and checking ability of McIlrath and I believe they would form a very good defensive pairing.
They would be in the top 4 before the season was over and their play would just get better. The only problem is getting them on the ice together. And even more so in Dylan’s case, just getting him on the ice.
The only problem is getting them on the ice together. And even more so in Dylan’s case, just getting him on the ice.
Born in Winnipeg, Canada on April 20th, 1994, Dylan is still just 24 years old, but the clock is ticking awful fast for him. This season may be his last in a Ranger uniform and if it is, I believe the Rangers will be making a terrible mistake.
With Tanner Glass, who is more of a middleweight, starting the year at Hartford, Dylan is the only true heavyweight on the Ranger roster. He must be used in a way that will neutralize the excessive cheap shots, face washes, slew foots and other dirty tricks teams use to intimidate players throughout the league. McIlrath is the lone force that can prevent these dirty tricks and unleash some hard checks of his own. And when he has to, he can intervene and drop the gloves.
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Last season he went after Wayne Simmonds of the Flyers after the latter sucker punched Ryan McDonagh. And this preseason, he took on Radko Gudas, also of Philly, for his check to the back of Jimmy Vesey. The check slammed Vesey face first into the boards under the glass and dropped the rookie to the ice. McIlrath wasted now time in taking it to the Flyer cheap shot artist.
Without McIlrath on the team, the Rangers lose that physicality and would then be at the mercy of rough, dirty and cheap play from teams around the league. Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. Now, I am not saying Dylan is a cheap shot artist or a dirty player. No, just the contrary. He will stop other Rangers from being on the receiving end of cheap shots. That is what size, strength and the ability to fight does in the NHL. I just hope that Alain Vigneault recognizes that before it is too late and McIlrath is traded or cut loose.