#24. Dylan McIlrath | D | Moose Jaw (WHL)
Date of Birth: April 20th, 1992 Height: 6.04 Weight: 212lbs. Shoots: R Season Statistics: Regular Season | 65GP 7G 17A 24P 169PIM Playoffs | 7GP 0G 1A 1P 21PIM TSR Midterm Rank: 33 | Position Rank: 7th Defensemen League Rank: 8th WHL | Country Rank: 11th Canada
The 2008-09 season was one to forget for the Moose Jaw Warriors. After winning just 19 games and finishing with the worst record in the Western Hockey League with only 41 points, the Warriors had nowhere to go but up in the 2009-10 season. One player that would improve his game and help the Warriors vastly improve their chances was hulking defender Dylan McIlrath. As a 16 year old in the Western League, Dylan’s inexperience was exposed early and often. In 53 games played, McIlrath posted 1 goal and 3 assists for 4 points, along with 102 penalty minutes and a -22. While a -22 might be eye opening for a mostly defensive defenceman, it should be noted that no less than seven Warriors finished with a worse rating over the course of the season, as the team was in a building year.
Coming into his draft year as a 17 year old, McIlrath looked to vastly improve on those statistics with an improving team, and he would not disappoint. While playing in 65 of the team’s 72 games, McIlrath went on to make a name for himself as one of the most intimidating players in the entire WHL; not an easy feat for any player – let alone a 17 year old. Dylan put up 7 goals, 17 assists, a +20 rating, and 169 penalty minutes, all improving upon his rookie year – and earning him an invite to the CHL Top Prospect’s game. He would also go on to add 1 assist and a whopping 21 penalty minutes in 7 playoff games, while going -3 against the eventual WHL Champion Calgary Hitmen.
The first thing that grabs your attention about Dylan McIlrath is his sheer size. At 6’5″ and 215 pounds, there aren’t many players in the WHL that can outmatch him physically. McIlrath has showed a deft ability to drop the gloves, even trading blows with Red Deer bruiser Alex Petrovic in the Top Prospects game. A nice throwback to WHL defencemen of old, McIlrath is not the greatest skater in the world, but instead he makes up for his lack of acceleration by being positionally sound and using his massive frame to separate players from the puck. Most players will probably avoid the front of the net when playing the Warriors, unless they want to find themselves face-to-face with McIlrath, who is going to win the physical battle the majority of the time. He is a classic warrior, and the type of player that coaches love to have on their side – and hate to play against.
Anyone looking for videos of McIlrath will find a wide range of fight videos, but Dylan has also proven himself to be a very valuable defender. While limited in his offensive ability, he posted respectable numbers on a fairly weak team this season, and has shown potential in his heavy shot from the point. With 271 penalty minutes in 118 regular season games, there is no questioning McIlrath’s toughness, which is his biggest asset. The biggest thing for him to improve on is his acceleration and skating all around, but as far as mean, nasty defensive defencemen go, there aren’t many players as attractive as McIlrath.
Pros: Size, mean streak, physicality and fighting.
Cons: Acceleration, offensive zone play.
Skillset Comparison: Adam Foote