The chances of Dylan McIlrath sticking with the Rangers took a substantial hit today with news that the Rangers have placed him on waivers with intent to assign him to Hartford. The immediate risk to his future on Broadway will of course be the possibility of another team claiming him for nothing.
With an $800,000 Salary Cap hit, he is relatively affordable, and NHL defensemen remain a sought after commodity in the NHL. With that said, McIlrath has some question marks over his utility in the NHL and any team that would claim him would be required to keep him on the roster for at least 30 days and 10 appearances.
While the injury to Josh Jooris seemed to eliminate the need to make a move, McIlrath’s future with the Blueshirts still remained questionable. Head Coach Alain Vigneault has only really utilized him when forced to, and remains relatively sparse in his praise for the 24 year old blueliner. Back in camp Vigneault outlined what McIlrath would have to be if he was to compete for a roster spot:
“If he’s going to play regular minutes at this level, he’s going to be a defensive-type defenseman,” Vigneault said. “That’s a guy that’s got good gap, doesn’t get beat one-on-one, whether that be on the rush or in the corner. When he gets an opportunity to beat the first forechecker, he can make a good first pass and get the puck out of our end. That’s how [McIlrath] can contribute on a good team.”
Source: New York Post
Additionally the Rangers run the risk of losing him as a Group VI Unrestricted Free Agent on July 1st, thanks to the limited number of games he has played in his career (39), and the fact that he will be 25 in April. Currently McIlrath would have to appear in an additional 41 games this season to remain a Rangers property, something that seems unlikely to occur without some serious injury issues to multiple players ahead of him.
Shifting McIlrath to the minors does free up some salary space, and the team does have real need for another top four defenseman. Currently Nick Holden and Kevin Klein are being asked to play top four roles, and both have shown limitations to their games when faced with higher quality opposition.