Brady Skjei Prospect Preview
The 2012 NHL Draft in the 1st round featured a surprise selection by the New York Rangers. Many experts in their mock draft had the Rangers selecting LW Stefan Matteau, mostly because he is the son of former Ranger OT hero Stephane Matteau. So when the Rangers turn came around at pick #28 in the round 1 and Matteau was still on the board; it seemed like a foregone conclusion that he would be a Ranger. However; Gordie Clark was about to shock nearly every Ranger fan in the building when he selected Defensemen Brady Skjei over Stefan Matteau. Clark and the Rangers may have gone out on a limb with their selection, however; Skjei has a good reputation as a solid all around defenseman. The Lakeville Minnesota native has size (6’2 and weighing 203 lbs) as he added some bulk before the draft. In 2011-12, Skjei had 36 points with NTDP (National Team Development Program), US National 18 and USA 18); this season Skjei will be joining Coach Don Lucia at the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers this season.
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The following are a few scouting reports regarding Brady Skjei:
Hockey Prospectus: His swiftness makes him a confident puck-rusher and very willing to jump into the attack. Defensively, his recovery speed allows him to take chances more slow-footed blue-liners would shy away from. He’s demonstrated willingness to play a physical game though he’s not known for momentum-building hits. He has an active stick and uses it (and his solid wingspan) to shut down a large area of ice.
Hockey Prospect: His breakout game has become increasingly proficient and his puck-moving capabilities might even enter territory reserved for the elite PMD’s in this draft-class. His speed allows him to handle the heavy-fore checking game and advances the puck effectively. Offensively, Skjei is still a work-in- progress and his upside appears relatively limited. But he’s shown some flashes of skill with the puck on the power play and his distribution game is certainly adequate.
Strengths: Brady Skjei is at his best when he has the puck on his stick and is going north to south toward the opposing goal. Skjei is an elite puck-mover and skates remarkably well for a player his size. Skjei is 6’2 and 203 lbs at 18 years of age, and he is reportedly still growing. Skjei is also very strong positionally on the defensive end and he is very difficult for forwards to maneuver around because of his mix of size and speed.
Weaknesses: As good as his ability to transport the puck, Skjei needs to work on his auxiliary offensive skills. His shot isn’t considered overpowering to say the least and his passing skills could use some improvement as well. Skjei will need to utilize his body frame physically as he progresses and develops moving forward.
Future Analysis: Skjei is as solid as they come defensively, despite not utilizing his size to his advantage as a physical presence. However, Skjei has the potential to be a solid second pairing defensemen in the NHL, as his offensive game and physical play will improve under Coach Don Lucia at Minnesota. In my opinion, Skjei will need at least two years of developing before he makes the leap to either the AHL or the NHL. Once he does, he will be worth the wait and the Rangers will benefit from it.