Defenseman Dylan McIlrath’s career will always be under the microscope, as he was selected 10th overall by the Rangers in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft ahead of U.S. Olympian Cam Fowler.
At the time, the Rangers were very high on Michael Del Zotto and felt they had more of need for a bruising defender rather than one of the puck-moving variety.
At 6’5”, 215 pounds, McIlrath did indeed fill an organizational need, but his career to this point has come to somewhat of a standstill.
After four years with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL from 2008-20012—over which McIlrath recorded over 100 penalty minutes in each season—the Winnipeg native made the jump to the AHL.
After playing in five playoff games, McIlrath suffered an injury that would affect his offseason training and interrupt the start of the 2012-13 season. He eventually played in just 45 games and scored zero goals, added five assists and 125 penalty minutes.
He received his first chance at an NHL job this past training camp but looked totally lost in preseason and was assigned to Hartford of the AHL prior to the season.
On December 12, McIlrath made his NHL debut after Vigneault received positive reports from the farm, but over a two-game stint it was clear the rookie was still not ready.
Upon being returned to the AHL, McIlrath was injured and sat out a month but returned on January 19. He’s currently got 13 points and 145 PIMs in 49 games.
Everyone in the organization is rooting for him, but the truth is he is always going to be compared to Fowler, and considering how much further ahead the Anaheim Duck is in terms of development, it’s safe to say McIlrath will frustrate fans for years to come.