The Dylan McIlrath era in New York, which began in 2010 when the wrecking-ball defenseman was selected in the first round of the NHL draft, is over.
McIlrath, 24, who had cleared waivers and played four games in Hartford, was traded Tuesday afternoon to the Florida Panthers for defenseman Steven Kampfer and a conditional seventh-round draft pick in 2018. McIlrath must play 30 games for the Panthers for the pick to go to the Rangers.
General manager Jeff Gorton said McIlrath, who is known for his physical play rather than this puck-moving abilities, didn’t really fit the team’s current style.
“We’re trying to play a little more aggressive and speedy game,” Gorton said. “It probably doesn’t help Dylan that we have some other guys that are a little more defensive. So those roles are kind of taken. So yeah, it’s a style of play issue right now, we’re more up-tempo and that’s not Dylan’s game.”
Gorton called McIlrath, who played 34 games last season, “a great kid, a guy who deserves a chance to play in the league. Florida’s a team that’s been calling me for a while about him. It’s a fresh start for him.”
It was unclear whether McIlrath would report to the Panthers or be assigned to Springfield, their AHL affiliate.
Kampfer, 28, who also was waived and went unclaimed recently, is a journeyman who will be assigned to Hartford. He has appeared in 134 NHL games over parts of five seasons with nine goals and 14 assists, a plus-eight rating and 60 penalty minutes. In 47 games with the Panthers in 2015-16, he posted four assists.
“We’ve had Kampfer before [from July to October 2014],” Gorton said. “We like his speed, his skill level. We think he can help us along the way here, we’ll see about getting a pick down the road. I think it’s going to help us, he’s a guy who can skate, can make that first pass. Along the way we’re going to need more than six, seven guys.”
Both players are due to be unrestricted free agents next season. McIlrath’s cap hit is $800,000 this year, Kampfer $612,000.