Alain Vigneault hasn’t been happy with the Rangers defense this season and on Wednesday, he did something about it.
The Rangers recalled Dylan McIlrath from AHL Hartford, according to the New York Daily News. McIlrath, 21, was the club’s first-round pick (1oth overall) at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and has appeared in 23 games for the Wolf Pack this season, scoring three goals and seven points.
The towering defenseman (6-foot-5, 215 pounds) spent all of last year in the AHL but felt he had “a legitimate shot” of making the NHL this season. A tough, physical player that isn’t afraid to fight, McIlrath was dropped from the Rangers just prior to the end of training camp.
It’s not surprising Vigneault and the Rangers brass are giving McIlrath a look. The head coach carved up his defense last week, saying the unit has been disappointing aside from Ryan McDonagh, the only blueliner than Vigneault felt had played beyond expectations this year.
The McIlrath recall also likely has to do with the health of Marc Staal, who has missed the last few games with a concussion. It’s worth noting this promotion comes a day after the Blueshirts brought Arron Asham back into the fold, as Vigneault said the lineup needed more grit and toughness.
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Kyle Turris was far from an accomplished NHLer when he requested a trade out of the Coyotes organization. In fact, when he was dealt to the Senators in 2011, the third overall pick in the 2007 draft had just 46 points in 137 NHL games.
Since then, Turris has emerged as Ottawa’s top center, with the promise of a big payday in the summer of 2018 when his current $17.5 million deal expires and he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
It’s for that very reason that he can understand Jonathan Drouin‘s position with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“It’s tough,” Turris told the Tampa Bay Times. “Everyone has mixed feelings, and especially not being an established player. Then people are doubting that you’re doing the right thing, you really have to have confidence in yourself and your ability to do it.”
Though Turris, now 26, took a “lot of heat from the media…and people within the organization” and recalls the time after his trade request was made public as a “tough, tough go,” he believes the opportunity he received with the Sens “saved” him.
As we’ve written in the past, you don’t have to agree with how Drouin is handling things — maybe it ends up hurting him; he still has a lot to prove — but there have been young players who have chosen similar paths, and it’s worked out well for them.
Drouin, by the way, has 40 points in 89 NHL games.