Matt Gilroy 2

On The Matt

Training camp opens Friday, and it appears there might be good news on the Marc Staal front coming. Staal is the only veteran yet to skate at the MSG training center, and the Rangers will need him on the ice if they hope to compete this season.

Another defenseman who has already been on the ice is today’s Ranger Countdown profile: Matt Gilroy.

Player Profile
Going into camp last year, there was plenty of hype over Gilroy, and the majority of fans thought that he’d be the one putting up the type of numbers that Michael Del Zotto ended up getting.

Signed as a UFA after scoring the OT game winner in the NCAA championship game, the former BU Terrier defenseman had a solid training camp, and displayed his superior skating, as well as some offensive skills during the preseason.

Early in the season he looked to be making the transition to the NHL well. Eleven games in and he had scored two goals and registered an assist, while putting together a solid +4 plus/minus, and picking up 21 shots on goal.

Often ending up behind the opposition net, it was only a matter of time before the coaching staff began to reel him in, and that is when his limitations became exposed. Relatively undersized and lacking the strength of his opponents, Gilroy didn’t have the tools to take back the puck in his own zone.

Often caught up ice, Gilroy displayed a remarkable ability to recover and make a defensive play coming back, but his speed and skating were less useful when the puck was already in his own end.

To his credit, he’s worked on the off-season to put on some muscle and build his strength. He’s also likely to be better off positionally, now that he’s had the off season to review what worked and what didn’t.

In terms of his position on the team, he’ll likely have to battle it out with Steve Eminger, Ryan McDonagh and the two blueliners in camp for try-outs: Garnet Exelby.

At this stage he might have a slight edge over the competition to hold onto at least one spot, but he’s likely going to have to battle all year to remain in the line-up, if the Rangers go ahead and sign a depth defenseman as expected.

2009-10 Statistics
Team: New York Rangers (NHL)
Stats: 4 goals, 11 assists and 23 penalty minutes in 69 games

Prediction
Team: New York Rangers (NHL)
Stats: 6 goals, 15 assists and 40 penalty minutes in 58 games

Trivia
Gilroy wears the number 97 in honor of his brother who passed away when they were children.

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