No reason to panic with Skjei
Perhaps lost amid the excellent World Junior campaign played by Team USA are the struggles of Brady Skjei in his freshman year with Minnesota in the WCHA. Skjei has just two points, which both came in one game way back in October, and has been outplayed by fellow freshman Mike Reilly who – unlike Skjei – made the US world junior team that’s earned rave reviews in Russia. Of course, there’s no reason to panic for Skjei, Rangers fans or team brass this early in his development.
Skjei is learning the hard way on a strong hockey program. He’s been on the third pair (recently with Nate Schmidt) and won’t have seen significant ice time. The Rangers don’t need to worry however as Skjei wasn’t expected (or needed) to be rushed and too much can’t be expected from a first year college defenseman in most cases.
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Update: 10:10am: Ok I misunderstood what was going on. I thought the roster had been set. It has not. Miller is expected to make the team. Skjei is still on the bubble, but has impressed thus far in camp.
Original Post: This is a bit old, but J.T. Miller and Brady Skjei have both made the US team for this year’s World Junior Championships. Miller, who was on the team last year, will likely be named captain prior to the start of the tournament. This will be Skjei’s first year with the club. Skjei has already received comparisons to Ryan McDonagh, but it’s a bit early in the game to be making that sort of comparison.
Miller had a bit of a slow start with Connecticut, but has really turned it on as of late. In seven games in December, Miller has a line of 3-4-7. In his previous 18 games in October and November, Miller had a line of just 2-5-7.
Skjei isn’t lighting the lamp with Minnesota with a line of 1-1-2 in 15 games, but the fact that he made the WJC club shows where he is in terms of overall skill. Remember, point totals are misleading.
Brady Skjei is one of three NYR prospects set to open their NCAA careers this week.
With the college hockey season upon us, it’s not just the juniors and the AHL season that is giving Rangers fans reason to watch hockey. Brady Skjei made his debut for Minnesota in an exhibition game last Saturday, a game that drew over 7,000 spectators. It sounded like a promising first appearance for Skjei who played a physical game even if his passing was inconsistent.
While he is considered a two-way prospect Skjei appears in a fight for powerplay time as he wasn’t part of either PP unit during the commanding 7-0 victory over University of Lethbridge. Of course, as a rookie Skjei will have to earn the right to powerplay time and ice time in general.
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The Connecticut Whales’ preliminary roster for the upcoming AHL season exposes the lack of blueline depth the Rangers now have beyond the NHL level. The Rangers have benefited in recent times as several prospects have developed into successful, full time NHL’ers in quick succession but the lack of a legitimate NHL candidate at the pro level – beyond the currently injured Dylan McIlrath – suggests the Rangers need to look at the position in the upcoming few draft classes.
While the Rangers also have Brady Skjei and Calle Andersson in the system, there is a lack of depth coming through to follow the Staal’s and Del Zotto’s on to the New York roster. The list of names heading to the Whale camp isn’t confidence inspiring. With all due respect the majority of Sean Collins, Steven Delisle, Jyri Niemi, Blake Parlett, Logan Pyett and Mike Vernace will top out as AHL depth players and it seems – being optimistic – only Jyri Niemi can (realistically?) harbour NHL hopes.
Whoever lines up on the Whale blueline this season will face stern tests on an almost nightly basis when you look at some of the impressive names (think Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, Schenn, Henrique etc) sent to respective AHL affiliates. Big league clubs such as Edmonton, New Jersey and Philadelphia have a host of top NHL talent heading to the minors and therefore the unproven, unheralded group of blueliners the Whale will likely put on the ice will know sooner rather than later whether they capable of greater things. Hopefully some of the prospects will surprise.
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Obviously we have no idea yet whether there will be a 2012/13 NHL season starting on time, a training camp or a pre-season. Hey, right now we have no idea whether there will be regular season play at all. Regardless, there are plenty of prospects in the organisation that offer legitimate intrigue. Whether they will be fighting for NHL jobs, making waves with the Connecticut Whale or sent back to junior/college there is still plenty to keep an eye on. A few intrigue me more than others.
With Tim Erixon traded, eternal patient Michael Sauer still hurt and Dylan McIlrath doing his best to provide Sauer with some company in the treatment room the Rangers defensive depth looks shakier – both short and long term – than it had done just six months ago; all this despite an envious top four at the NHL level. Enter Skjei.
Unfortunately for Skjei, the aforementioned issues at the defense position for the Rangers may mean more of a spotlight shining on the Wisconsin prospect than he may have hoped/expected. Thanks to a promising evaluation camp for Team USA this summer, many eyes will be on Skjei to see how he develops within the powerhouse Wisconsin programme.
Skjei is possibly the most important prospect in the entire organisation – assuming you take it for granted that Chris Kreider has ‘graduated’ to the Rangers full time. The Rangers need Skjei to develop well. Not just because he’s a first round pick but because the club need some defensive prospects to step up in the near future. His season will be interesting to follow.
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Despite it being the dog days of the summer for the pros there has still been some important hockey played by some of the Rangers most prized prospects. Steve Fogarty, Brady Skjei and JT Miller have been attending the initial US world juniors’ evaluation camp over the last week and all three have performed well. Chris Peters of the excellent United States of Hockey website (a blog dedicated to US hockey) has been following the camp and has been kind enough to give us some updates on all three Rangers representatives.
Chris has been monitoring the US evaluation camp closely and what follows is some insight on each of the Rangers prospects, how they performed to date and offered some opinion as to their NHL futures.
This is what Chris had to say about college bound Steve Fogarty:
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Whether you’re thrilled with the selections of Brady Skjei, Cristoval Nieves, Calle Andersson and Thomas Spelling or not, draft weekend 2012 has to be considered a tremendous success.
GM Glen Sather stuck to his firm declaration following the season: “we don’t trade kids.”
Sather has taken runs at acquiring Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan and Jordan Staal over the last week. Though many believe that each would look good in blue, it’s the price tag that’s scary to think about.
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It should come as no surprise that the Rangers again dipped into the ever-improving talent pool of American-born prospects to make their first-round selection. With the 28th pick in the draft, Gordie Clark announced the selection of defenseman Brady Skjei, a Minnesota native out of the U.S. National Team Development Program, from which the Blueshirts selected J.T. Miller a year ago.
Beyond his American ties, defenseman Brady Skjei possesses one trait that New York’s scouting staff covets – tremendous skating ability. Effortless skating is one thing, but it’s all the more impressive when it’s attached to a 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame. It’s basically unheard of for a player that size to have the speed and fluidity of Skjei and that gives him a pretty sizable advantage over many other prospects. However, outside of his size and skating, Skjei’s tools are raw.
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It’s official, the New York Rangers will draft at #28 on June 22. Sure, all the top talent will be gone, but there are always gems to find in the late rounds. After all Chris Kreider was drafted in the early 20s, and the Rangers organization has proven time and time again that they are great at finding players who are talented and intelligent. Don’t forget that all our draft analysis can be found on our Draft Coverage page.
Position: D Height: 6’2″ Weight: 198
The first thing that most scouts say about Maatta is that he is very well rounded. He doesn’t necessarily excel at any facet of the game, but he has no real weaknesses either. Basically, he’s just one of your well rounded defensemen who has tremendous hockey IQ and positioning skills. Generally those go hand-in-hand, but for a guy like Maatta, it’s his greatest strength. He is capable of carrying the puck up the ice and starting the rush, and is also capable of getting back and playing solid defense in his own zone.
Maatta is not the guy that’s going to throw a big hit to remove player from puck, but he does use his body enough to stymie the rush. I hate making comparisons, but his overall game is reminiscent of Dan Girardi’s game, without the 5,000 blocked shots.
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