With the New York Rangers in a bind with cap space currently, chances are they will take a chance bringing up some younger players to fill in roles when needed. They need younger players to step up, more on offense currently, however, there are still plenty of defensive prospects who could see some time over the course of the season. Here is a breakdown of what you might see out of the younger players coming up through the Rangers system on defense and how they got to this point so far.
Dylan McIlrath, Defense
McIlrath was chosen for one reason back in 2010 and that’s his aggressive, physical style of gameplay he brings from the back end. He doesn’t bring much on the offensive side (though the Rangers hoped that part of his game would develop) the the puck, however, he has a good shot and his puck distribution has been improving over time. He still has some work to do, the 2013-2014 AHL season was his first full pro season after missing half of last season with a serious knee injury. He has accumulated 290 PIM the last 2 seasons with plenty of fights to his name at the AHL level. The Rangers still think he can step in as time goes on and eventually be a bruising defenseman in the lineup every night.
Connor Allen, Defense
Allen was another Rangers college free-agency pick up signed in March 2013 after a stellar junior season at UMass-Amherst. That season he posted 5-14-19 in 33 games along with 53 PIM before signing and joining the Rangers farm system. In his rookie AHL season with the Hartford Wolfpack, Allen had a strong campaign posting 31 points and 71 PIM in 72 games. He also played well enough to join the Rangers for 3 games during the regular season. Allen is still young and needs some time to develop in the professional ranks before a full time gig in the NHL. Still, the potential is there and Allen could make an appearance this season.
Mat Bodie, Defense
Bodie was signed after captaining Union’s 2014 NCAA Championship run by the Rangers after a strong 4 year college career. Bodie is only on a 1-year deal and is more of a depth option, but provided plenty of good play at his time with Union College. Playing in 154 games during his 4 seasons, Bodie had 124 points and was considered a team leader the entire way. One never knows how these types of signings will work out (i.e. Matt Gilroy) but if he proves his worth in the AHL this season, he could see another contract and some future time in the NHL.
The only other real prospect for the Rangers defensively going forward is Brady Skjei, who has made considerable leaps while playing for the University of Minnesota and also with the United States World Junior squad. He will return to college for his junior season based on his own decision, as he feels his development will continue there. At the end of this season, he is likely to join the Rangers farm system and start his pro career.