On Monday afternoon, we invited fans to submit questions for McIlrath and other prospects here on newyorkrangers.com. McIlrath was gracious enough to respond to a few that we passed along to him on Tuesday. Here are the questions and his answers:Joe Stein from Leesburg, Va., asks:
What would you say is the strongest part of your game? McIlrath's response:
I think my being hard to play against. My intimidation factor and being physical and being a stay-at-home kind of guy. That's my bread and butter.
Lou Llewellyn from Alberta, Canada, asks:
Do you think you would have enough confidence to play for the Rangers next year if the team wanted you in the lineup? McIlrath's response:
We'll see how the summer goes. I have worked my hardest. Every year, my goal is going to be to make the Rangers, but having said that I recognize that it's a process and it might take a couple of years for me to step in.
Paul Freeman from Old Bridge, N.J., asks:
Do you feel great when you ring someone's bell as they are coming across the middle or make a big hit? McIlrath's response:
Absolutely. It's a part of the game that I relish and I enjoy. I guess that's part of my identity and it's not going to change.
Nick from Franklin Square, N.Y., asks:
You were drafted for your physical presence, but what other parts of your game do you feel you need to improve in order to be successful in the NHL?
I think that the NHL pace is so fast that it's just getting up to the tempo. My hands, too, working on that. Just skills in general.
David from Hopewell Junction, N.Y., asks:
Some scouting services have you listed as 6-foot-3 and 212lbs, while others have you as over 6-foot-4 and 220. Exactly how big are you right now?McIlrath's response:
I'm going to go with 6-foot-4, 215.
Kevin M. from Baldwin, N.Y., asks:
Which NHLer would you compare your game mostly to?McIlrath's response:
Right now, it's maybe a Willie Mitchell type. But in the future, I'm looking to be a Shea Weber type. I want to be a good two-way guy.
Adam from Nanaimo, British Columbia, asks:
Is there anyone outside of hockey that influenced your success?McIlrath's response:
My parents, obviously, with just everything they have gone through. They had to make tough decisions. I was playing football and volleyball and hockey all in the same year, so just driving me around from sport to sport. A coach that really helped me out was Bruce Southern. He's the guy that made me switch back to D, and that really turned out well.
Matt Freifeld, New Rochelle, N.Y., asks:
Do you feel that there is any added pressure to succeed because of where you were drafted and who else was on the board?McIlrath's response:
Yes and no. Being a top 10 pick, there is always going to be that pressure. Maybe the expectation is to be on a fast track to the NHL. But the team here is really supportive and they know that I might need some development.
Butch from Greenwich, Conn., asks:
Have ever seen video of Jeff Beukeboom, and is your game is at all the same?McIlrath's response:
I haven't seen much video of him, but from what I hear he was a similar type of player. He was really physical and a good heart-and-soul guy with good character. So, I'll have to do my homework, I guess, to learn even more about him.
Damon Callahan from New York, N.Y., asks:
What do you expect of yourself going into training camp in September?McIlrath's response:
I think just getting used to the faces and developing and taking it all in. It's my first NHL training camp, so I know it's going to be tough and there are going to be bumps in the road, but I just want to play my game and not try to be anyone else.
Hope from White Plains, N.Y., asks:
How do you feel about being drafted by an Original Six team, and were you surprised when the Rangers picked you in the first round?McIlrath's response:
As far as the Original Six, I just visited the Garden and I got a really good taste of the history. It was nice. There's a lot of passion in New York with great fans, I can tell, so it's going to be a good career once I make it up here. As far as being drafted by the Rangers, I really wasn't expecting it. That being said, I knew the Rangers really liked me, but they didn't really talk to me after the Combine. Maybe that was just a tactic where they didn't want other teams to know they were going to draft me, but I didn't really expect it when I heard my name called.
Mark from Las Vegas, Nevada, asks:
Have you been trained in when to pick and choose when to be aggressive in a game, or is that simply an instinct of yours? Also, are you being mentored in your offensive game as well? McIlrath's response:
I'm always physical on the ice. I don't really think about it, I just love to hit. But I know when to pick my spots to be disciplined and stuff. It's not like I'm running around trying to kill guys. I know how to play the game, too, so it's a healthy balance of that. My bread and butter is my defensive game. I'm not going to be a 50-point guy, but that being said, I want to complete my game, too. I don't want to just be one-dimensional, so I'm just working on every skill.