McIlrath’s new two-year, $1.3 million deal contract carries a $700K cap hit and annual average value, should he play with the Red Wings. If playing with Detroit’s farm team in Grand Rapids, the former Winnipeg Warrior would accrue $275K annually. The 6-foot-5, 240-pound blueliner served as an alternate captain with the Griffins in 2018-19, where he put up one goal, 10 points and 98 penalty minutes in 52 regular season contests.
The now 27-year-old Winnipeg product was once a highly-coveted first round selection, being taken 10th overall by the New York Rangers in 2010. However, his inability to adapt to a faster paced NHL game has left him primarily playing in the minor leagues since the 2010-11 season (353 AHL games, 50 NHL contests).
McIlrath was a large piece of the puzzle with the Griffins during their successful 2017 Calder Cup championship run, as Grand Rapids traded for the rough and tumble defender at the trade deadline, sending Thomas Vanek to New York for the services of McIlrath, along with a third round draft selection.
As injuries to key defencemen certainly happen, McIlrath is expected to serve his time waiting in the wings for another opportunity to stick with the big club following a potential recall. With fellow Winnipegger Madison Bowey also looking to fill the void on the blueline, McIlrath will need to show he’s worth more than just 1.70 penalty minutes a game to gain the confidence of new Red Wings’ General Manager Steve Yzerman.