McIlrath, 24, played in 34 games for the Rangers last season, lending his physical style to the bottom pairing. With 64 PIM, the former 10th overall pick ranked second on the team and recorded 93 hits and 35 blocked shots. His possession numbers indicate that he may be able to take on a larger role as soon as this season, and with the departure of Keith Yandle, and retirement of Dan Boyle, it may soon present itself.
Larry Brooks of the New York Post points out that should McIlrath not play in at least 42 games this season, he would become a Group VI unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2017. To qualify for this type of free agency, a player must have played in less than 80 NHL games (among other things); McIlrath currently has played in 38, including one playoff match this season.
The Rangers also signed free agent forward Josh Jooris within minutes of announcing the McIlrath deal, and still have arbitration eligible RFAs Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes on the docket. Kreider has an arbitration hearing set for July 22nd, while Hayes will have to wait until the 27th.