Rugged New York blueliner Dylan McIlrath will be sidelined for the next while with a knee injury, head coach Alain Vigneault confirmed on Tuesday.
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After being re-evaluated by team medical personnel McIlrath found out that his right kneecap injury is a bit more serious than first anticipated, though not considered to be a major setback either. The injured kneecap is not the same one he dislocated during prospects camp back in 2012. That injury, which necessitated surgery and forced him to miss half of the following season, was to his left kneecap.
When asked if this would open a spot among the team’s seven-man defense corps for fellow rookie Brady Skjei who was recalled on an emergency basis from Hartford on Monday, Vigneault would not provide a definitive answer, citing salary cap concerns first and foremost.
Skjei didn’t play in Sunday’s 6-4 loss to the Islanders, the game in which McIlrath saw just 3:38 of ice time before exiting. That put quite a pinch on fellow blueliners Ryan McDonagh and Keith Yandle, who both finished with over 24 minutes each.
Moving forward, Skjei will play with veteran blueliner Dan Boyle on a pairing.
As for McIlrath, the knee injury derails his first full campaign at the NHL level. After making the Blueshirts out of training camp — had he not, the team would’ve been forced to expose him to waivers — he’s since appeared in 31 games, averaging just under 14 minutes per night.