The New York Rangers and Florida Panthers struck a deal today, swapping disappointing defenseman. Dylan McIlrath is on his way to Florida with Steven Kampfer the return going back to NYC, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie. The deal also includes a conditional 2018 seventh-round pick going to the Rangers. McKenzie reports that New York will receive the pick only if McIlrath plays in 30 games for the Panthers this season.
McIlrath is a 2010 first-round pick of the Rangers, but was never able to solidify himself as an everyday player at the NHL level. McIlrath played just three games combined in New York in his first two pro seasons, before finally getting the chance to stay on the roster in 2015-16. Last year, he recorded only four points playing about 14 minutes per night in 34 games with the Rangers. Although the two sides agreed to a one-year deal this off-season, going into this season, McIlrath was not guaranteed a roster spot. After the preseason gave the Rangers a chance to look at their depth on the blue line, they made it clear that they were open to dealing McIlrath. Having played only one game with the team to this point, his status within the organization became clear last week when the former top prospect was put on waivers. Now, McIlrath gets a fresh start with the Panthers and will look to show that his lack of production so far was a product of the Rangers depth and system rather than his own inability. Not too far gone from being a first-rounder, McIlrath still has some raw talent that Florida will try to develop further, as well as invaluable toughness.
Returning for a second stint in the Big Apple is Kampfer, who was traded to Florida by the Rangers not too long ago. The University of Michigan product appeared to have a bright future in front of him playing for the Boston Bruins right out of college. However, as his play dropped off, the Bruins sold high on him at the 2012 NHL Trade Deadline in a deal with the Minnesota Wild for Greg Zanon. After two seasons playing in the AHL for the Wild’s affiliates, Kampfer signed with the Rangers prior to the 2014-15 season. After he lost a roster battle to former Bruins teammate Matt Hunwick in training camp, the Rangers shipped Kampfer to Florida for veteran forward Joey Crabb. Kampfer played in 72 games with the Panthers over the past two seasons (with very little production), but had only played in one game so far this season and had requested a trade out of Florida. He got his wish, but has been sent back to a team that traded him before he could play a single regular season game for the organization. This time around, Kampfer will provide some experienced depth for the Rangers, but seems likely to still see significant AHL minutes throughout 2016-17.