This is from last Friday, but I don’t think it’s past its expiration date yet. In the video you see Rangers 2010 1st round pick Dylan McIlrath drill Capitals prospect Garrett Mitchell with a clean check and then throw the majority of the punches after Mitchell drops the gloves and forces him to fight. Mitchell got an instigator and a misconduct on the play. I’ve watched McIlrath play a few times this year as well as watched a bunch of highlights, and teams really don’t mess around with McIlrath. He was unofficially given the title of “most feared player” in the WHL last year as a 17 year old, and you can clearly see why from the video. If you go to this link you can see all the fights McIlrath has had in the WHL.
McIlrath reminds me of Dion Phaneuf in terms of their physical abilities. Like Phaneuf, McIlrath is huge and knows how to use his size to punish players in the slot as well as long the boards. They both are also good enough skaters for their size. McIlrath doesn’t have an absolute blast of a slapshot like Phaneuf does, but Dylan still can shoot the puck hard and get it on net. What prevents Phaneuf from being one of the top defensemen in the NHL is his head. His raw abilities don’t always translate to the game. Many of his big hits look good on youtube but put him out of position, and he can look lost in the defensive zone at times as well. McIlrath is a good defensive player tactically but also does make some of those mistakes as well. He’s only 18, though, so it’s expected that he’s not a complete, polished defenseman yet. If he was then there’s no way he falls to the Rangers at the #10 pick last year. He’s a long term project and certainly a relatively risky pick by the Rangers, given the fact that guys like Cam Fowler and Vladimir Tarasenko, who are much safer bets, were still available. McIlrath hasn’t blown anyone away this year but he’s done well enough to make Rangers fans happy. A knee injury earlier in the year and the miserable teem in Moose Jaw that he plays for are the things that have held him back more than anything else. The Rangers fans who require instant gratification – the same one who think firing Tortorella and trading half the roster is necessary – will complain about taking McIlrath every time his name comes up, but those of us who are willing to be patient know that we might just end up with this generation’s Jeff Beukeboom if we’re willing to wait for it.