McDonald: McIlrath Making Most Of His Last Chance

This is the last chance for The Undertaker.

The big physical defenseman is now on a one way contact, so for the Rangers to send Dylan McIlrath to Hartford, he will have to pass through waivers.

And because he looks ready and comes rather cheaply with a salary of $810,000, there’s no chance it that.

As the great “Mean Gene” Okerlund would say, “The Undertaken would be Undertooken.”

Or something like that.

Let’s not worry about that yet, though. All he has to do is beat out journeyman Raphael Diaz for the seventh spot. It’s not impossible. In fact there’s better than even money of that happening.

“I thought I did a pretty good job,” McIlrath said after the Rangers 6-3 preseason win over the Devils. “My goal is to make the team. I don’t feel extra pressure. I’ve been in the organization a while and know it’s time to make that leap. This is how I’m approaching it.”

All he has to do is play into coach Alain Vigneault’s system. That is become more of a skater and less of a, well…undertaker.

Not impossible but he has to get Mr. Vigneault to agree upon that.

“I have to play a simple game. Let the play come to me,” he said. “I was playing well in Hartford and I was playing with confidence. I need to ride that wave into camp.”

Ok, great. But McIlrath will not make anyone forget Brian Leetch out there. Even though he is trying to become a better skater and scorer, he’s still a physical defenseman.

Tonight he showed that he is doing it differently.

“I said this before, I can play physical but I can be mobile as well,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any coach in the league that won’t want a big physical mobile defenseman. That’s what I’m trying to work towards.”

There may not be a coach in the league that doesn’t want that, but is he that. Or to put it in a better way is he playing in a way where Vigneault will keep him around?

“I thought he had a good night,” Vigneault said. “He tried to make some little plays when he had the puck. His gap was good. So overall, I think he did well.”

McIlrath will have five more games to prove this. He also has this in his favor: the Rangers don’t want to lose the former first round pick. They know if he goes on the waiver wire, someone will claim him, so if he’s not a Ranger, he will be traded.

So time is ticking away here for the 23 year-old. This is his time.

His one last chance to be a Ranger.

About the Author

Joe McDonald

Joe McDonald is the founder and former publisher of NY Sports Day. After selling to i15Media in 2020, he serves as the Editor-in-Chief and responsible for the editorial side of the publication. In the past, Joe was the managing editor of NY Sportscene magazine and assistant editor of Mets Inside Pitch. He has covered the Mets since 2004.

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