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10-27-2011, 03:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Trxjw View Post
I was actually the one who made the comment he was referring to, and while I should have qualified it as "most Rangers fans", I still stand by it. I see Fowler's upside as a guy who can be in the 45-55 point range, but who lacks the physicality and elite defensive awareness to be a true #1 d-man. I think his skating will ease the impact of many mistakes he might make, but his ability to read the play as it approaches him is nowhere near as good as his ability to read the play going the other way. Sergei Gonchar comes to mind.

McIlrath has the nasty streak that fans, and more importantly teammates, love to see on the ice. While I'm a major opponent of your prototypical goon, I'm very quickly becoming a vocal advocate for the kid and the development he's shown. He's at that point where his body is only starting to catch up to what his head wants to do, and you see some glimpses of potential there. Realistically, I see him as a potential Brooks Orpik. A guy that keeps it simple, but can amp up the physical game and really change the momentum for his team. If he can polish his offensive game, I think he could hit 35 points a couple times in his career, but I think the folks who hope he can be the next Shea Weber should temper their expectations.

What I think we can appreciate about both prospects is that each is good enough in one area of the game that they will almost certainly be decent NHL blue liners in one way or another.
Fair enough. I can't say that I agree with where you place Fowler's upside, but that might just be a difference of opinion. To be fair, if I were looking just at least season I could understand that projection entirely. Based on what I've seen so far this season, however, I'd say his upside could definitely be a potential #1 defenseman. The improvement he's shown so far this season is rather substantial, particularly in the defensive end. Every player develops at their own rate, but it seems likely that he would continue to improve for some time, and he's already showing some of the high intelligence plays that we both agree help define the true #1's in their own end. As it is, I'd say he's been Anaheim's best, and most consistent overall defenseman. Obviously, he still has work to do before he can be called a true #1, but I do think it's within the realm of possibility for him, without needing too much wishful thinking. Much of this is contingent on whether he can maintain this play over the course of the season, and beyond. Consistency is the real key.

Based on those two projections, I can definitely see an argument for why McIlrath would be the preferred player among most Ranger fans. Based on what I've seen of McIlath, and seeing plenty of room for growth in his game, he's a player I'd very much like to see in Anaheim. If he can hit his potential, he'd be a stabilizing force on the blue line. An anchor. But a mean one. If he can consistently put up decent offensive numbers, that's icing on the cake for him.

I just really can't picture choosing him over Fowler, if given the choice. Give me a pick of one or the other, and Fowler is a no-brainer for me. Some of that is definitely hindsight. Who expected Fowler to jump into the NHL so quickly? Or to be so important to Anaheim in such a short span of time? I know the Rangers already had MDZ, but I'm a big believer in drafting BPA in the 1st round. I've seen cases where drafting based on need can come back and bite you in the ass. Of course, the same can be said for drafting the best player available. I don't think McIlrath will end up being as good as Fowler, or as much an impact player, but maybe he ends up being the right pick for the Rangers.

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