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01-07-2013, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by HatTrick Swayze View Post
I know (or certainly hope) noone is rooting against McIlrath.

If he can be a monster of a physical presence and play a solid game in his own end I know everyone will love him. There is no doubt about his ability to fight, intimidate, and clear the crease (attributes that are definitely valuable).

His ability to defend and clear the zone in his own end will be what makes or breaks his career, and IMO that still remains to be seen. He is clearly a better skater than Bickel or even most 3rd pairing guys so he's got a big edge there; but that alone is not enough to be a good dman.

During the 2011 preseason, I liked his skating. Noreau isn't terrible for a big man, but you could see just how much better McIlrath was than a guy of comparable size. However, you could tell that he was nowhere near ready. He was a hitter and a fighter, and he could occasionally rush the puck using his size and decent skating, but he was out of position, he was a little lost at times, and he was thinking too much before making plays. Things just didn't come easy to him.

Seeing him again now in Hartford, he's shown tremendous improvement, confirming what people who watched him in the juniors reported.

His "small step footwork" has shown huge improvement. This is exactly what someone like McDonagh is great at, making good small steps to maneuver his way around the attacking forward. McIlrath is nowhere near as good as McD, but he's shown huge improvement and now above average at this. He'll never be great at "long stride" skating like Kreider and Hagelin are, but he doesn't need to do that. He's a defensive defenseman, not a forward.

He also doesn't take himself out of position nearly as much. He's a teachable kid and this is certainly a teachable skill.

If we had the Traverse City Tournament right now to start the city, a whole lot of people would've been mightily impressed by The Undertaker. He would've dominated that level of play.

Last edited by Beacon: 01-07-2013 at 03:26 PM.
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