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Rangers put defenseman Dylan McIlrath on waivers

San Jose Sharks' Matt Nieto fights for control

San Jose Sharks' Matt Nieto fights for control of the puck with New York Rangers's Dylan McIlrath during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, in New York. Credit: AP / Frank Franklin II

GREENBURGH, N.Y — The Rangers on Thursday waived defenseman Dylan McIlrath, their first-round draft pick in 2010, who had appeared in only one game this season.

Whether McIlrath’s time with the organization is over is yet to be determined. The Rangers would like to see the 24-year-old clear waivers by noon Friday so he can get some playing time with the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack.

McIlrath signed a one-year, $800,000 contract last summer and will be an unrestricted free agent if he doesn’t play 46 games this season.

The 6-5 McIlrath, who has never been shy to drop the gloves, needs to work on his “puck skills and puck decisions,” coach Alain Vigneault said.

“Selfishly, I hope he clears waivers and goes to Hartford and plays,” Vigneault said. “But if somebody were to pick him up and give him an opportunity, we’d all be very happy for him. Maybe it was less about him and more about the other guys this year showing us that they were a little bit better than he is at this time. That doesn’t mean that for some reason he clears waivers, goes to Hartford, goes down there and plays well . . . Things change rapidly in this league.”

The move means that for the moment, Adam Clendening, signed as a free agent last summer, will stay with the club as the seventh defenseman. McIlrath, more of a rough-and-ready defender than Clendening, played 34 games last season and had two goals and two assists.

“This year, I was more disappointed in myself earning that spot, and I take full onus,” McIlrath said. “I’m never going to blame this on the coaches. This was all about my play and not earning a spot in the lineup.”

McIlrath wants it to happen with the Rangers, and there’s still a chance for that down the road if he’s not claimed.

“That’s the toughest thing,” he said. “It’s getting drafted. From that day forward, my main focus was making the Rangers. That’s what I’ve dreamt about for the last six years. So that part is going to be a different experience having to deal with if I do get picked up. That being said, my goal is to play in the NHL. It’s about playing hockey. I was blessed to be with this organization. It doesn’t mean I’m done with this organization. But my main focus is playing in the NHL.”

Notes & quotes: Henrik Lundqvist will start for the seventh time in eight games when the Rangers visit the Hurricanes on Friday night in Carolina’s home opener . . . Chris Kreider (neck) will miss the game and likely Sunday’s, too, Vigneault said . . . Pavel Buchnevich will be activated off injured reserve for the game. Josh Jooris, who suffered a second-degree left shoulder separation on Wednesday, will go on injured reserve and is expected to miss three to four weeks . . . The NHL has scheduled a disciplinary hearing Friday with Bruins forward David Pastrnak, who decked Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi with a hit to the face in the second period on Wednesday night. Pastrnak received a two-minute minor.


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