Back in June, when the Rangers selected Brady Skjei with the 28th overall pick in the NHL draft, they definitely knew what they were getting. In a draft where NHL teams matched a record by selecting 13 defensemen, the Rangers may have gotten a steal at the 28th spot.
Many people, including myself, have compared Skjei to Ryan McDonagh, the 23-year-old stud blueliner that all Ranger fans had the pleasure to enjoy watching last season.
USA Hockey recently hosted their camp for the Under-20 World Junior Championship, which will take place in December. After camp concluded about a week ago, Chris Peters at the United States of Hockey had a lot of praise for the 6'1" Skjei.
I thought Skjei was Team USA's best defenseman today, away from the shadow of former U18 teammates Seth Jones and Jacob Trouba. Skjei was his normal, slick-skating self, but showed even better puck-moving skills than he's displayed previously in camp. He was working the power-play with Connor Murphy extremely well and got himself involved a little more offensively. He was so sound positionally today, which made things difficult for the Finnish forwards.
Peters then went on to say that he sees every reason why Skjei "belongs in the conversation as a potential No. 5 or 6 defenseman on this team."
Now when Skjei was asked by Rangers beat writer Jim Cerny about his own game, he responded with the following.
I think it went really well. The coaches knew my game going in because of my previous time in the (United States) program, so that provided me a certain comfort level. I just tried to be a solid two-way player for the team, probably more of a shut-down guy. I wanted to showcase my skating, which is probably the best part of my game and is a big part of international play, along with my shut-down abilities. I am happy with how it all went.
Skjei will be attending the University of Minnesota this fall, and upon making the USA squad, he will leave school to join Team USA in its quest for the gold medal in Ufa, Russia. If, in fact, Skjei does make Team USA, this will be a great opportunity for him to show the Rangers brass what he is truly made of.
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