New York Rangers: Contenders for the 7th Spot on Defense


According to Sean Hartnett, the New York Rangers have extended qualifying offers to all of their restricted free agents (including Derek Stepan and J.T. Miller), except for defenseman, Conor Allen.

It’s a shame to see Allen go. The 25-year-old collected 11 goals and 34 points over 72 games with the AHL Hartford Wolfpack. Judging by those numbers, his two-way play seemed invaluable.

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However, Allen logged 113 minutes in the penalty box (113!) and recorded a measly +1 plus/minus rating by the end of the season. He also served a four-game stint with the Rangers this year, but obviously his performance wasn’t impressive enough – he recorded four PIM and a -1 plus/minus. Based on that, I see now why the Rangers would let Allen go.

Defenseman, Matt Hunwick, was also released to free agency, per Larry Brooks. Hunwick recorded two goals and 11 points in 55 games with the Blueshirts. The 29-year-old also put up a remarkable +17 plus/minus which was, in my opinion, well deserved.

I would have liked to see him back behind the New York Rangers bench, but it looks as though one of three other blue liners has already edged him out of a spot.

The salary cap is still a bit tight, so the 7th spot might even be the last spot on defense. So, if there could be only one, who would you pick?

1) Dylan McIlrath, a first round pick (10th overall), was one of the RFAs who were recently handed a qualifying offer. McIlrath played in 73 games with the Wolfpack, logging six goals and 17 points along with a +5 plus/minus.

He also earned a shocking 165 penalty minutes, putting his team on the PK often. And that translated over into the NHL as McIlrath somehow managed to log nine PIM in just one game with the Rangers this year.

New York Rangers
New York Rangers /

New York Rangers

The 23-year-old is a giant at 6’5″ and 220 pounds, but McIlrath still has a lot of growing to do in terms of skill. I mean, what good is a defenseman when he’s in the sin bin as often as he’s on the ice? And I’m all for an enforcer, but McIlrath needs to tone it down a notch.

2) Chris Summers, acquired in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes this past March, spent time with the Wolfpack as well. In 13 games, he had one assist, 17 PIM and a +3 plus/minus.

Summers’ NHL totals include only three games with the Rangers and 67 in all in which he recorded two goals, nine points, 47 PIM and a -22 plus/minus.

He hasn’t had sufficient time with the Rangers to say if he’s really good or bad with this team. At 27-years-old though, he is the most experienced out of the three.

3) Brady Skjei (pronounced “shay”), is hard at work in the prospect development camp as we speak. As the youngest and least experienced, he has a lot to learn before he can secure a spot on the Rangers’ blue line.

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Here’s what Hockey’s Future had to say about Skjei: “He plays a sound game in his own end of the ice, although he does not make use of his big frame…At this stage, he appears to be a lower pairing defender when he reaches his full potential.”

In short, he has the size, at 6’3″ and 206 pounds, that the Rangers need. After camp is over, we’ll know if he has the skill.

I wouldn’t be surprised if all three defenseman get ice time at some point with the New York Rangers this season, yet Skjei is the most interesting to me. He has the most potential. There’s the possibility that he could click with the team after a few weeks, just like Kevin Hayes did. Both came to play for New York straight out of college, so who knows?

Which of these three defenseman would you like to see in the Rangers’ 7th spot on defense? Vote in the poll or leave a comment below.

Next: Rangers' Possible Targets for Top Nine Position

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