In the 2012 NHL Entry Draft the New York Rangers selected Brady Skjei with their first-round draft pick (28th overall). There is plenty to know about this 18-year-old defenseman from Lakeville, Minnesota.
Skjei (pronounced Shay) stands 6'3" and weighs about 203 pounds, which is a good size for such a young player, who is going to continue to grow.
From 2008-10, he played for the Lakeville North High School Panthers where he tallied 14 and 23 points in 25 regular-season games each season respectfully.
The 2010-11 season was a busy one for Skjei. He played in the US National Team Development Program and represented the USA at the 2011 Under 17 World Hockey Challenge. He was a co-captain for the U17 NDTP team and skated in all 55 games, scoring five goals and accumulating 14 assists. This would also be the year that he would commit to playing hockey for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, starting in the 2012-13 season.
During the 2011-12 season he skated for the NDTP Under 18 team, scoring four goals and recording 19 assists in 60 games. He also played for Team USA in the 2012 U18 World Junior Championship. He would win a gold medal at the U18 WJC and had one assist in six games. He led his team in plus/minus rating with a plus-10.
Heading into the draft there were plenty of scouting reports about Skjei. Many scouts felt that he would be selected late in the first round. Overall, many scouting reports raved about his size, his two-way defensive game, fluid and agile skating, ability to jump into the play to create a chance or stop an opponent and how much he had improved during the 2011-12 season, in which he was listed on the ISS (International Scouting Services) Top 30 from October 2011 thru May 2012.
According to Grant McCagg of TSN, Skjei is “[a] great skater for his size, likes to support the play from the back end, above-average puck mover, can lug the puck if needed, good hockey sense, gets point shots on the net, passing skills are okay, can play on the power play. Has improved quite a bit in last few months, hasn't reached his full potential yet.”
Bill Placzek of draftsite.com also raved about his hockey sense: “[W]hen moving up ice, he creates scoring chances as a terrific transition player. Creative with the puck when he leads in. Very tricky on the offensive. Reads and reacts well, and has a strong defensive game. Effortless skating backward.”
Like many prospects that have been drafted in the last few years, there are some weaknesses in his skill set.
McCagg states that he’s “[n]ot a hard-nosed kid, won't play a physical style despite his size and needs to add some muscle. Not an overly creative player and his offensive production may not be great - he needs work on his consistency.”
Currently Skjei has played 15 games for the Minnesota Golden Gophers and has posted one goal and an assist. While the offense is not there for him right now, his role in Minnesota seems to be more of a lockdown defenseman type.
Remind you of anyone?
As Katie Strang of ESPNNewYork.com reported, some inside the Rangers organization have drawn comparisons of Skjei to current Blueshirt defenseman Ryan McDonagh.
However, he has a ways to go before he gets to the level of McDonagh.
Recently, he was cut by Team USA for this year’s World Junior Championship along with Stefan Matteau, who was the New Jersey Devils’ first-round draft pick this year.
Still, Brady Skjei should keep his head held high. He plays at one of the top D1 schools for hockey and is already drawing comparisons to one of the best young defensemen on the Rangers.
Give him three-to-four more years of development and he’ll be ready for the bright lights of Madison Square Garden.