Connecticut Whale Analysis: Matt Gilroy Is Taking Advantage of His Opportunity With the Whale

It is safe to say that the NHL lockout hasn't been good for anybody involved with hockey. But if any player has taken advantage of the work stoppage, it would be Matt Gilroy.

When the Rangers decided not to bring back Gilroy after the 2010-11 season, many pundits believed that he had played his last game with the organization. After all, the Blueshirts had a young defense core (and still do) and at 27 years old at the time, the North Bellmore, N.Y. native didn't fit into the Rangers plans.

Gilroy split the 2011-12 season between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Ottawa Senators, but was not offered a contract by any NHL team before the collective bargaining agreement expired on September 15th.

However, by not signing with an NHL team, Gilroy was not locked out by the league, and the defenseman signed with the Whale on October 7th. While the 28-year-old continues to work on his defensive game under the tutelage of head coach Ken Gernander and assistant coach Jeff Beukeboom, Gilroy's offensive game is more than solid against AHL competition.

Gilroy has a three-game point scoring streak, and has recorded points in five out of his last six games. In last night's 7-5 win over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the defenseman sparked a Connecticut comeback in the third period.

Less than a minute after the Sound Tigers took a two-goal lead, it was the Boston University product who scored to cut the Whale deficit to one goal. Then, with the Whale clinging to a 6-5 lead in the final minutes of the contest, it was Gilroy who scored the power play goal to give Connecticut a two-goal cushion that they wouldn't relinquish.

In seven games in November, Gilroy has three goals and four assists. In 14 games this year, the defenseman has five goals and six assists. His five goals are tied for second on the club, and his 11 points place him third on the Whale in points behind Kris Newbury and Kyle Jean.

One category that Gilroy leads the Whale in is shots on goal. Gilroy's 51 shots on goal this season are tied for 16th overall in the AHL. Although scoring chances are a better barometer for creating offense than shots on goal, Gilroy's shot total -- which is 16 more than the next highest shot total on the Whale -- is reflective of the offense he has provided in Connecticut.

When Gilroy signed with Connecticut in October, New York Post writer Larry Brooks speculated that the Blueshirts would sign the 28-year-old to an NHL contract once the lockout ended.

Gilroy's play with the Whale has -- at the very worst -- put him into the discussion for a bottom-six defense role with the Rangers.