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How Do You Solve A Problem Like McIlrath?

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New York Rangers v New York Islanders Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Oh, Dylan. We hardly knew ye, rookie, because Alain Vigneault hardly played ye, and we never figured out why. You Hulk-smashed the welcome mat and warm cookies the Wonder Twins set up in from of Lundqvist's net; you were a badly-needed bull in the crease/china shop. You battled for every puck, wreaking havoc in the corners. You didn’t have much in the way of speed, but made a great stay-at-home guy while Keith Yandle did Yandlethings.

You also fought, the sort of fights that mesmerized even those of us who hate fighting, before we shook off the spell and came back to our senses. Here, you swoop in, 230 pounds of Blueshirt Batman, after Matt Beleskey's dangerous hit on Derek Stepan.

After Wayne Simmonds sucker-punched your captain, Tanner Glass vowed revenge, but you’re the one who dropped the gloves and more than held your own. If Tanner Glass has #grit, you have #gravel. You also have a slap shot that should interest the Defense Department.

But then you got hurt. And then you sat.

OK, enough with the second person schtick. Trouble is, while all of these raw materials are good; they need development and on-ice experience, and that’s what Dylan McIlrath didn’t get. He sat in storage when he could have been helping to hold down a blue line so bad that other teams cheered its “veteran” pairing going into the playoffs. Here's the math, courtesy of War on Ice:

Statline: 2 goals, 2 assists, 4 points in 35 games played. 51.1% CF at even strength.

Final grade: Incomplete/B

When one of my students can’t complete the work through no fault of their own, we give them an incomplete. What we saw from McIlrath landed him pretty solidly in B-land, but he was absent for a bunch of tests. As Mike described it, the kid went from "being overrated to nearly forgotten to underrated." He also had some of his near-literal thunder stolen by fellow Ranger Baby, Brady Skjei.

Logic dictates that we should see a lot more of McIlrath in 2016-17 -- he's young (24), cheap, and solid. Let's hope that the Rangers don't waste his talent as well as his time.