New York Hockey: Dylan McIlrath

Backup goaltending gig open for competition

September, 13, 2013
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- According to coach Alain Vigneault, there will be a competition for the backup goaltending job at Rangers training camp.

Vigneault acknowledged that former Devil Johan Hedberg, who recently signed a professional tryout contract with the team, has the chance to push incumbent backup Martin Biron for the gig.

"I would say yes," Vigneault said, before stressing the importance of a reliable No. 2 goaltender during an Olympic year. "We need a backup goaltender that can play and win us some games."

Hedberg, regarded as one of the steadiest backups in the league, played 81 games over the past three seasons while backing up future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur in New Jersey.
Biron played 44 games the past three seasons behind former Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist.

Biron is already under contract with the Rangers, but he missed the first two days of camp for "personal reasons."

The 36-year-old Quebec native didn’t go into specifics about the situation, but he said he is now completely present and focused on rejoining the team.

“I’m not going to get into details,” Biron said. “It’s just how life is sometimes and you’ve got to roll with it. I was fortunate I was able to get home and now be back.”

Asked whether the situation is settled, Biron said:

“I’m here 100 percent. I’m where I need to be. I’m focused and I’m really where I wanted to be this morning.”

• • •

Defensive prospect Dylan McIlrath, 21, sounded relieved to have a clean bill of health for training camp. The former first-round draft pick said that his surgically-repaired knee is now 100 percent and that he’s eager to make a good impression on organizational brass.

McIlrath, who was selected 10th overall in 2010, said he hopes to show that he’s ready to make the jump to the NHL.

“I think so; I hope so,” he said after skating with the first group in Friday’s one-ice session. “I just have to prove it to the new guys and I have to prove it to myself, too.”

McIlrath said he rehabbed his knee for 30 minutes before every workout this summer and has been working on his leg strength to ensure the injury does not happen again.

Now that he’s fully able to compete for a job, he knows making the opening-day roster will be tough, especially considering the organizational depth on defense.

“I’m going to have to win a spot,” McIlrath said. “If I make the team, I’m going to have to beat a really good player out.”

• • •

JT Miller, who "tweaked" his hamstring Thursday during conditioning laps, appeared to re-aggravate the injury.

The 20-year-old prospect left the ice early again on Friday with the same issue. His availability for Saturday is not immediately known.

McIlrath making progress

October, 19, 2012
Dodging what could've been a season-ending injury suffered in development camp, Rangers prospect Dylan McIlrath is making "great progress" after undergoing a follow-up procedure on his knee, the team announced in a statement.

McIlrath suffered a dislocated kneecap after a collision with a fellow prospect this July, an injury that threatened to sideline him for the entire 2012-13 season.

The 20-year-old defenseman, a first-round Rangers pick in 2010, has not yet been cleared to return to the ice, but the team said the procedure went "very well."

McIlrath had three goals and 20 assists in 52 games for the Western Hockey League's Moose Jaw Warriors last season.

Top 5 landing spots for Rick Nash

February, 14, 2012
ESPN Insider's Craig Custance probed a little further on the market for Columbus Blue Jackets winger Rick Nash with a post on his blog Tuesday afternoon detailing the top five destinations for the star Insider. Earlier today, Katie Strang wrote how the Rangers are rumored to be among the teams interested in acquiring Nash, but they are clearly not alone.

According to Custance, the Rangers might be the second-most likely landing spot, behind the goal-starved Los Angeles Kings who are seeking the final piece for a Stanley Cup run.

Acquiring Nash would certainly come at a steep price, with names like Brandon Dubinsky, Tim Erixon, Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller and Dylan McIlrath being thrown around. After building for so long from within -- and seeing the immense dividends on the ice this season -- would the Rangers really alter their course to snap up the biggest prize of the trade deadline? I suppose we'll find out soon enough. The trade deadline looms Feb. 27.

Stepan is center of attention

September, 20, 2010
As camp started this weekend, Derek Stepan took center stage, assigned to the team's top line with Marian Gaborik and Alexander Frolov for the Rangers' first scrimmage. While it's still extremely early to read too much into the move, it did seem to pay off. Stepan scored a goal and set up one of Frolov's three scores.

The momentum keeps building for Stepan who previously turned in a solid showing at the Traverse City prospect tournament. It's no guarantee that Stepan will start the season centering the Rangers' top line, or even that he'll beat out a deep group of vets for a spot on the roster, but Stepan's situation is holding everyone's attention early on. More on the matter below.

Morning Links

The season closes in

September, 15, 2010
Now well within a month of the start of the NHL season and mere days before veterans report for training camp, the media is starting to roll out its pre-season power rankings. Blog conglomerate SB Nation released its rankings, placing the Devils third in the East behind Washington (No. 1) and Pittsburgh.

As for the Rangers and Islanders? Well, there’s always next year.

Morning Links

  • Speaking of next season, TSN’s Bob McKenzie is already looking ahead to the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
  • In the name of all things synergistic, here’s ESPN’s Gare Joyce’s first cut at the top 10 prospects from the 2011 (Insider) field from earlier this summer.
  • As a cap to the summer, ESPN’s E.J. Hradek takes a look at the best and worst offseason moves in the Atlantic Division. On that Kovalchuk signing you may have heard about? Not a fan. (Insider)
  • After losing 5-4 to Minnesota’s prospects Tuesday at Traverse City, the team’s site writes that winning isn’t everything at the tournament. Evgeny Grachev notched his third goal of the tourney, while 2010 third-rounder Andrew Yogan tallied as well. After the game, Rangers player development director Gordie Clark spoke highly of several of the prospects, particularly the defensive tandem of Ryan McDonagh and Dylan McIlrath. Clark labeled the duo the tournament’s “best pair by far.” The Baby Blueshirts wrap the tournament Wednesday against Dallas. You can follow the action here.
  • The Rangers and restricted free agent D Marc Staal continue to negotiate, according to the New York Post. Larry Brooks says the talks should conclude in a positive fashion before the opening of camp on Friday, with the discussed deal extending into Staal’s first few years of unrestricted free agency.
  • Blueshirts by the Numbers touches on No. 22, Mike Gartner.
  • Head Coach John Tortorella said newly-acquired netminder Martin Biron will hopefully start around 20 games this season. That would shed about 10 games from Lundqvist’s total last season. Tortorella also discussed the status of Chris Drury, who needs to prove he can still produce, according to the coach. The bench boss also conceded that Wade Redden’s contract affects how he looks at defenseman. Honestly, if the nails aren’t already hammered into Redden’s coffin, a new big deal for Staal should take care of that.
  • The Daily News caught up with Ruslan Fedotenko, who will fight for a job at training camp.
  • Ranger Rants examines the training camp battles on the right wing.
  • Lundqvist was among a slew of NHL stars in New York for the league’s media tour. Though I can’t seem to grab the link, on right now there’s a video interview of the Rangers’ goalie getting asked about his super-dreamy locks. This is appointment viewing, I assure you. If you’re waiting for an actual hockey question though, you can probably save the 30 seconds.

Commissioner Gary Bettman tells Tom Gulitti that there will not be an appeal on the league’s punishment of the New Jersey Devils.
“The arbitrator found that there was a circumvention in this particular case and I’ve been very clear to the board that in the event that there’s a finding of circumvention it has to be punished,” Bettman said. “It’s that simple.”

I would argue that there has been nothing simple about the Kovalchuk signing/circumvention and that the league itself is to blame for previously allowing contracts of absurd length, padded with low-rent years to alleviate a salary-cap hit.

Stepan, Grachev highlight Traverse City

September, 13, 2010
The Rangers’ roster of prospects dropped its second game at the Traverse City tournament, but not before generating a little buzz Saturday with a dramatic 5-4 win over Columbus in its tourney opener.

Evgeny Grachev scored the game-winner with just over six seconds remaining, converting on a set play from an offensive zone faceoff win by center Derek Stepan. It was the perfect capper to a game in which the baby Blueshirts’ top line of Stepan, Grachev and left wing Ryan Bourque accounted for four of five Rangers’ goals and eight of 10 points.

The game-winner was Grachev’s second goal on the night, while Stepan put the Rangers on the board just over midway through the first period. Bourque added a power-play tally in the second after RW Christian Thomas pocketed an unassisted goal to start the period.

Netminder Scott Stajcer, a fifth-round pick from 2009, stopped 20 of 24 shots to earn the win. The club’s top pick in the 2010 draft, Dylan McIlrath finished plus-one with two shots on goal.

Sunday’s game didn’t lack for drama, but the Rangers failed to get a positive result, watching Carolina Hurricanes prospect Zac Dalpe score the game’s only goal with under a minute left. Netminder Mike Murphy (sixth-round, 2008 entry draft) stopped all of the Rangers’ 33 shots to steal the 1-0 win.

Cam Talbot, a University of Alabama at Huntsville product, stopped 25 of 26 shots for the Rangers.

The split leaves the Rangers among four teams with a 1-1 record (Carolina, St. Louis, Dallas), trailing undefeated Minnesota. Detroit’s squad stands at 1-0-1 with an overtime loss to Tampa Bay. The Rangers skate at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday against the unblemished Wild. You can follow the game here.

Morning Links

Locals surprise in first round of 2010 draft

June, 26, 2010
It seemed to fall just right for the Rangers and Glen Sather. Their need is an offensive player on the blue line and Cam Fowler dropped right in their lap. Fowler seemed perfect for the Blueshirts; he was a point-per-game player for the Windsor Spitfires in the OHL and has been compared to former Rangers star Brian Leetch.

However the Rangers shocked the Staples Center crowd in Los Angeles and many in the NHL community by taking 6-foot-5 Dylan McIlrath. He fits the bill as a defensemen but not as a scorer. But there is one thing that he can do: Hit! His nickname is the "Undertaker." It's not a bad pick, since the division is filled with rough and ready players who love it hit. You just wonder if years from now we'll talk about Fowler, who went to the Ducks, as the better player.

The Islanders selected right wing Nino Niederreiter from Portland of the WHA. The Switzerland-born player scored 36 goals last season, with eight in the playoffs. He may not be a sexy pick but a solid one. He'll get help from his new teammate Mark Streit, who is also Swiss.

The Isles are starting to collect good young players like, John Tavares, Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey. That's what happens when you have selected in the top 10 three of the last four years.

The Islanders were not done. They traded there 35th and 58th picks to the Blackhawks for the last pick in the first round and selected Brock Nelson, a 6-3 center who was the 11th American-born player drafted in the first round, a new NHL record. Nelson is the nephew of Dave Christian, who played on the 1980 gold medal hockey team and spent 15 years in the NHL.

The Devils did not have a first round pick. They sent that to the Thrashers for Ilya Kovalchuk. Will N.J. regret that decision? We'll see after July 1.

The biggest story to me in the first round didn't involve the locals. It's Jaden Schwartz. He's a play-making center from Tri-City of the USHL. His sister Mandi goes in Yale and has cancer; she needs a bone morrow transplant. But she was able to see her brother get draftwed by the Blues with the 14th pick, much higher then anyone thought.