The New York Rangers‘ recall of former No. 1 draft pick Dylan McIlrath is not a game-changing move. In fact, the move seems like a desperate ploy for the Rangers to address the one area of their game that has sorely lacked this season: toughness. At the same time though, it seems like a necessary move. Based on what we’ve seen so far from McIlrath, he appears to be unafraid to stick up for his teammates, get involved in a scrap and most importantly, provide a physical presence in front of the net. McIlrath could end up being a major X-factor for the Rangers going forward.
In Sunday night’s game, McIlrath got involved in his first NHL fight with a known pest in the Calgary Flames‘ Brian McGrattan. As a result of his efforts, he was awarded with the “Broadway Hat” by his teammates after the game. The fact that he received the award simply based on a fight rather than an important goal or save shows how desperately the Rangers need his style of play.
McIlrath alone will not replace the toughness and spunk the Rangers have lacked since the departures of Brandon Prust, Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov. But for a team that has struggled mightily to establish a physical edge in their game, McIlrath is certainly a start.
The knock against this Rangers team is that is easy to play against simply based on their lack of physical and mental toughness. As long as McIlrath continues to play the role of enforcer effectively, the Rangers will gradually become a more difficult team to play against. This is why McIlrath could end up being a major contributor to the Rangers for the remainder of this season.