There’s a real ‘last chance’ vibe at Rangers camp

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Dylan McIlrath and Oscar Lindberg have a few things in common. They’re both 23. Both were taken at the 2010 draft. Both split last year between New York and AHL Hartford, and both are facing what could be their last chance to become Rangers.

So says the New York Post, anyway.

First, the skinny on McIlrath:

This training camp truly does represent Dylan McIlrath’s last chance to make the Rangers, because if the 2010 first-rounder can’t earn a spot as the club’s seventh defenseman, he would have to clear waivers to remain in the organization at AHL Hartford.

Given his age (23), position (right side), and contract (one year at $600,000 NHL, $90,000 AHL), it is extremely unlikely McIlrath would clear. Indeed, if he can’t beat out journeyman Raphael Diaz for the spot, the Rangers most likely would seek to deal the defenseman in order to get at least something in exchange for losing him.

Then, Lindberg:

[He] would have to clear waivers in order to be assigned to the AHL Hartford Wolf Pack.

That’s unlikely given the combination of the 23-year-old’s upside and his modest $650,000 contract. Both he and the Rangers know it.

Which is why Lindberg’s last chance is likely his best chance, as the Rangers’ management and coaching staff are committed to giving him every chance to make the squad.

Of the two, McIlrath has the potential for bigger blowback. He was already considered a reach in his draft year — 10th overall, two spots ahead of Anaheim d-man Cam Fowler — and has failed to materialize at the NHL level. Losing him via waivers would compound what many already see as a mistake.

Losing Lindberg, a natural center, would be more understandable. The Rangers have a logjam down the middle — Derek Stepan, Derick Brassard, Kevin Hayes, Jarret Stoll and Dominic Moore — and there are questions about Lindberg’s ability to produce offensively.

That said, head coach Alain Vigneault has floated the idea of moving Lindberg to wing.

Whatever happens, the McIlrath and Lindberg situations are worth monitoring. The Post is right in that both would undoubtedly be scooped off waivers if made available, and everybody knows the scorn front offices face when they don’t get anything in return for departing assets.