The Panthers announced this afternoon that they’ve traded defenseman Steven Kampfer and a conditional 2018 7th-round pick to the New York Rangers for defenseman Dylan McIlrath.
Kampfer played in just 1 game for the Panthers this season – October 29th against the Sabres – out of the first 13 after suiting up 72 times over the past 2 seasons. He performed admirably as a depth defenseman in his time with the Panthers and earned a 2-year contract extension worth $1,225,000 which he’s currently in his final year of. Kampfer was waived on Sunday as the Panthers called up Jakub Kindl, but he was never sent down to the AHL and instead remained with the team.
Reports were swirling that Kampfer requested a trade in order to get more playing time, and it seems this trade was partly made as a way of doing right by him. In exchange, however, the Panthers received Dylan McIlrath who the Rangers selected 10th overall in the 2010 Draft and brings a massive 6’5″, 236-pound frame to the table along with a physically imposing, defensive defenseman skill set.
The Panthers’ 2018 7th-round pick will go to the Rangers if McIlrath plays at least 30 games in the NHL.
Statistically speaking, McIlrath has thrived in his short time with the Rangers and last season, he was a positive possession player despite the team being negative overall. He posted a Corsi For% of 51.3, the second-best on the Rangers, and played incredibly well while paired with Keith Yandle for over half of his total time on ice. McIlrath has recorded 2 goals, 2 assists, and 84 penalty minutes in 38 career NHL games, all with the Rangers.
Although McIlrath wasn’t acquired for Erik Gudbranson, it’s easy to compare the two because their styles of play are incredibly similar. Even though he’ll be used in a depth role to start with, McIlrath, who caries a cap hit of $800,000, essentially replaces what was lost in Erik Gudbranson for a lot less money and a lot lower expectations.
Gudbranson, the 3rd overall pick in 2010, was typically struggling while playing against the top players of the opposition on a nightly basis when really he should’ve been in getting 2nd or 3rd pairing minutes. He was also set to command a lot of money considering he had just signed a 1-year deal worth $3.5 million.
Now, the Panthers can play McIlrath when there’s injuries, a more physical opponent, or at any other time and not see a drop off in shot generation or suppression, because those are things McIlrath has proven to be good at. Because the Panthers have mostly puck-moving defensemen (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), it did create a small need for a defenseman that is capable of playing the physical game, albeit a reliable one, and that’s what they now have in McIlrath.