McIlrath has battled injuries, but he may be running out of chances.
In fact, a year from now, he may be overtaken by Brady Skjei as the best defensive prospect.
McIlrath played in 45 games for the Connecticut Whale, posting only five assists.
However, he had 125 penalty minutes and projects as a nasty, crease-clearing defenseman.
He has an outside chance of cracking the top six this season. More likely, however, he will be in the starting lineup for the 2014-15 season.
The Rangers need someone like McIlrath on their roster. He will clear the crease for Henrik Lundqvist. If he can stay healthy and get a full season under his belt, then perhaps he can finally reach his enormous potential.
Time is running out, however. He was drafted 10th overall in 2010. Cam Fowler, who was selected 12th overall in the same draft, has already established himself as a productive NHL defenseman. Justin Faulk, who was selected 37th overall in that draft, could see significant playing time for the Americans in Sochi.
Players do develop at different rates, and it's entirely possible that McIlrath will have a better career than Fowler and Faulk.
Still, there are other prospects—like Skjei and Calle Andersson—who may surpass McIlrath soon.