While watching Team USA hold their evaluation camp for the World Junior Championships, Katie Strang of ESPN NY said that she was hearing that Rangers 2012 first round pick Brady Skjei was drawing comparisons to fellow Minnesota-born defenseman Ryan McDonagh.
Prior to being drafted, Skjei was described as a defenseman who can shut people down and projects to be a player similar to Ryan McDonagh.
Right after the draft, assistant GM Jeff Gorton said “His game is similar to McDonagh. He is a shutdown guy, elite skater, a big body. He is very willing to learn and has a lot of qualities that we like. I think it’s an untapped guy that is only going to get better and looking down the road he is a really good fit for us.”
Corey Pronman writes at ESPN Insider that Skjei has had his struggles at Minnesota but with his elite skating ability, good hockey sense and big body he still has a decent shot at gaining a spot with Team USA for the World Junios.
In The Hockey News, 12/31/12 issue, they preview Team USA for the World Junior Championships and suggest that coach Phil Housley look to reunite the pair of potential first overall pick Seth Jones and Rangers 2012 first round pick Brady Skjei.
Skjei and Jones played together for the US National Program last season and while Skjei will be fighting for a spot on the team, THN writes “if fast chemistry has any value for the US braintrust, that pairing would make a lot of sense.”
At The United States of Hockey, when breaking down defensemen, Chris Peters writes of Skjei, “Skjei is a very strong defense-first kind of defenseman with elite speed and skating to help him contribute offensively on occasion. “
READ MORE, including a recent update, on Brady Skjei.
In The Hockey News (12/17/12 issue), they look at Brady Skjei and write “His M.O. is his mobility and ability to move the puck up ice quickly, but the transition to the Gophers has been rough for Skjei, who had just two points in 10 games. The offensive upside is there, but the Rangers would love for him to find a mean streak to complement his 6-3 200lb body.
Earlier in the year, Leslie Treff ranked Skjei the Rangers 5th best prospect at Hockey’s Future and Corey Pronman ranked Skjei 4th at Puck Prospectus. Pronman says that Skjei is an “elite skater who is remarkable to watch” He adds that, similar to what The Hockey News wrote, Skjei isn’t really a physical player and he can be tougher on checks.
READ MORE about Brady Skjei including updates on how he has done so far at Minnesota.
Drew Claussen of the Minnesota Daily, the newspaper on the University of Minnesota Campus, says that Skjei has been solid but has a lot of room for improvement, esperically when it comes to being a consistent two-way defender.
He writes, “he’s had an ok freshman season so far, not stellar by any means. I’d say there has been times where you don’t notice him in games, which for a freshman defender isn’t terrible because it means he’s not getting blown by a lot. He did sit out a game about a month ago because of an unspecified injury but seemed to bounce back from that just fine. Recently Skjei has spent the majority of his time on the top defensive line with Nate Schmidt, who I believe to be the team’s best D-man, so that should help his progression.”
He has one goal and one assist in 14 games with 8 shots on goal.
Chris Peters writes that Skjei has all the tools to play for Team USA but may not have enough seasoning and experience to make the team. Peters adds “He’s good defensively, has great size and strength and can contribute just enough offensively.”
At Blueshirts United , Gordie Clark said that he was impressed with the game that Skjei has and that as an 18 year old he is playing a very strong game.
Update On The Rangers Prospects In College
Here is an update on The New York Rangers top 3 prospects at the college level. Brady Skjei/ Defense (University of Minnesota): The 2-way defenseman has had a slow start offensively for the Minnesota Gofers thus far. However; he has been very consistent on the defense.
Games Goals Assists Points
12 1 1 2
Steven Fogarty/Forward (University of Notre Dame): Despite managing only 4 pts in the first 13 games, Fogarty has displayed a very physical presence on the ice and is very steady defensively.
Games Goals Assists Points
13 3 1 4
Cristoval “Boo” Nieves/Forward (University of Michigan): Nieves has been outstanding in his first 13 games as his defense has improved immensely to go along with his offensive production.
Games Goals Assists Points
13 2 6 8
Thus far, all three prospects have had their ups and downs this season and all three need time to develop their game to the next level. All three prospects are projected at least 3-4 years from making their professional debut, so time is on their side to improve their game.
At the United States of Hockey, Chris Peters writes that while Brady Skjei has all the tools to deserve a roster spot with Team USA at the World Juniors in Ufa, Russia, the struggles and lack of ice time he has been getting at the University of Minnesota may keep him off the team.
Peters writes “It’s becoming less clear there’s a spot for him on this team, but his physical attributes keep him in the hunt.”
Michael Russo tweets that Brady Skjei will be one of the Minnesota lineup for this weekends games. It is only believed to be a minor injury.
Robb from Clutter Puck sent this review of Skjei through the first four games of the season.
I will tell you through 4 regular season games, Brady Skjei has yet to fall into regular rotation on the defense even though he’s played in every game so far this season. Through the 4 regular season games I’ve watched, Brady has been either in the bottom pairing of defensemen (3 games) or listed as the extra man (1 game) for forward rotation on the 4th line (this was the most recent game on Saturday night) so it’s been kind of hard to tell how he’s doing so far.
The Minnesota Gophers are pretty deep on defense with a steady top 4 full of experience so it’s going to take an injury or Brady playing great in practice for him to show up right away. He’s gotten some power play time and scored a power play goal but that was in a rout of Michigan State so it could be the coach just giving some other players a chance with a good lead.
In the games this last weekend on the road against a competitive Michigan Tech team, Brady didn’t get a lot of ice time. I don’t think he played in the 3rd period of Saturday night’s game. He’s just going to have to gain the trust of his coaches to get some minutes during crunch time in his freshman season.
All of that being said, it is just 4 games so far (not counting the 1 exhibition game that wasn’t on TV) so there’s plenty of time to see progress this season. He has the size, skating ability, the shot and hockey sense to make an impact this season or he wouldn’t have been a first round draft pick.
Brady Skjei's first career goal makes it 7-1 #nyr. From Schmidt— Michael Russo (@Russostrib) October 14, 2012
At Hockey’s Future they preview the University of Minnesota season and writes of Skjei “The Lakeville, MN native is part of a stellar freshman class for Minnesota this season and is one of the nation’s best incoming freshman rearguards this season. He is noted for his superb skating and hockey sense. As Guentzel explains, Skjei will bring many great things to the team.”
Skjei also had an assist and was a plus one. He was also one of the stars of the game.
Russo writes in the Star Tribune “this kid honestly is terrific” and he said that he was “outstanding” on the back end.