Ok so once again the New York Rangers left their fans angry and confused over how they used their first round pick. Yes at first glance even I was caught off guard by the selection of Dylan McIlrath when a strong case could have been made for selecting other players.
If it was anyone but Gordie Clark who was making the pick then even now I would remain highly suspect of this pick. But in all honesty none of us really have any complaint because once you look at this pick and the various arguments then you can see that Gordie Clark makes a strong case for using this pick here.
Could the Rangers used the pick on other defensemen?
Sure they could have taken Cam Fowler but at the same time why would you? You have Michael Del Zotto who is twice the offensive weapon than Fowler will ever be.
Derek Forbort could be a solid 2 way defender but he is not as developed as MaIlrath and going to North Dakota. Forbort again offers potential but at the best he would be 3-4 years away playing college hockey while McIlrath is playing 70-80 games a year in the WHL.
Brandon Gormley? No way do you draft a QMJHL to be a defensive defender. Mark Pysyk who was the other higher ranked defender is coming off a broken foot and plays for a struggling Edmonton Oil King franchise.
They could have traded down and still gotten him
One look at how this first round went and there is no way this is a given. Joey Hishon goes 17th while Emerson Etem 29th? Ryan Johansen goes 4th when he not even mentioned by anyone as blowing past several more highly ranked prospects.
So why is this a good pick?
The biggest missing piece for the Rangers since 1999 has been the "stay at home" crease clearing punishing defenseman. When you say this is a bad pick then remember Wade Redden and every other "wave as they go by" defender the Rangers have had.
McIlrath is getting way too attention because of the number of fights he got into last season on his way to his 169 PIMs. That is not why the Rangers drafted him but it is a nice bonus the next time Marian Gaborik winds up in a fight.
What McIlrath does is play his position well so right off the bat when he becomes Del Zotto's partner then Del Zotto has a partner who will give him the freedom to be able to pinch; to be able to go end to end on a rush and not worry that his partner is so weak that he can not afford to gamble.
I trust and believe Gordie Clark when he says they were targeting McIlrath as far back as December. I know that WHL scouts Ernie Gare and Shannon Sather work their butts off as I have witnessed them work with other prospects.
McIlrath is playing for a young developing Moose Jaw Warrior team who put on one heck of a push to earn the 8th seed in the WHL's Eastern Conference. McIlrath was a huge reason why the Warriors almost shocked eventual WHL Champions the Calgary Hitmen.
Calgary had to rally from down 3-1 before escaping from the Warriors. McIlrath did a great job in helping shut down the Hitmen. The Hitmen only lost 7 games during the WHL playoffs with 3 coming in that series.
I also like this pick because this was not a reaction pick to what other teams were doing; to see how well McIlrath's jersey was stitched with his name on it says that the Rangers thought long and hard about picking him. When the rest of the draft was going crazy the Rangers were as strange as this may sound a calm and well prepared bunch.
Yes I wanted others too
Emerson Etem winds up going 29th totally blows me away but also shows how teams do not care about anyone's mock drafts. Seeing Johansen and Niederreiter going as early as they did was not a shock but I knew Niederreiter was going to be an Islander back in March.
Those 2 Ranger wins over the Islanders late in the season is why Niederreiter is going to be a huge pain in the Ranger's butt for years to come. He will mesh perfectly with John Tavares which is bad news for the Rangers.
The Rangers have the 40th, 100th (4th), 130th (5th), and 190th (7th) but I expect that to change several times during the second day. With the selection of McIlrath, I would not be shocked to see the Rangers trade the rights to Ryan McDonagh to regain the 3rd round pick lost in the Boyle trade.
McDonagh is expendable now with this selection as unpopular as this is going to sound to many a Ranger fan. The Rangers are also in bad need of some cap relief so while you pray for the exile of Wade Redden it will take a miracle but other moves might be made that will raise the anger of Ranger fans even higher.
(McIlrath courtesy of Aaron Bell/CHL Images)
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