A closer look at the New York Rangers' Hobey Baker winning, offensive defenseman Matt Gilroy.
Alexander Ovechkin's mother and Ilya Kovalchuk's father were both Olympic basketball players for the former Soviet Union. Ovechkin stole his now famous No. 8 from his basketball playing mother. Like both Russian superstars, Gilroy stole his athletic genes from a basketball playing relative, as his father Frank played hoops for St.John's University and was drafted by the Philadelphia 76'ers.
Those athletic genes took a long time to kick in, however, as Gilroy walked-onto Boston University's hockey program as a 5'6 forward at 17. A late bloomer, the Hobey Baker winner is now 6'2, 205 pounds. A recent New York Ranger free agent signee, Gilroy only moved to defence because the Terriers needed an eighth defenseman for practice.
One of eight children, Matt isn't the only hockey-playing member of the Gilroy family. His brother Kevin was a freshman for the Terriers this season, one reason why Gilroy came back for his senior year. The Gilroy brood grew up in North Bellmore Long Island, less than two miles from Nassau Coliseum where his uncle used to work. Gilroy rarely missed an Islander game at the Coliseum during the Pat Lafontaine era.
Because he turns 25 this summer, Gilroy was a true free agent and didn't have to sign an entry-level contract. He received a $250,000 signing bonus, $1.4 million base pay in 2009-10 and $2.1 million base pay in 2010-11 for a total of $3.75 million. Because of his age, Gilroy doesn't need waivers to go up and down to the AHL even though he signed a one-way contract, however, the one-way contract guarantees him the money even if he is in the AHL.
Pursued heavily by three NHL teams after a breakout senior year (he notched 37 points in 45 games), Gilroy has a tonne of young competition on the Ranger blue line. Already with the Rangers are Marc Staal and Dan Girardi, while solid prospects Bobby Sanguinetti, Michael Del Zotto, Mike Sauer, and Corey Potter are fighting for position within the organization. Only Potter and Girardi are older than Gilroy and not by much. All three have birthdays within six months of one another. Gilroy's one-way contract will come in handy in the battle for Rangers' ice time.
Winning the Hobey Baker trophy doesn't guarantee NHL stardom, as recent winners include Junior Lessard (2004), Marty Sertich (2005) a