Brady Skjei and Brendan Smith Expectations
The New York Rangers will enter the season with Brendan Smith and Brady Skjei paired together. And quite honestly, other than the Nashville Predators, there may not be a team with a better second pair in the entire league.
This pairing is the perfect balance of defensive responsibility (Smith) and offensive potential (Skjei). The strides made by Brady Skjei last season as a rookie were extremely impressive. From the start of the season to the end, Skjei was such an important and smart defenseman. In his rookie season, no. 76 tallied 39 points (5 G, 34 A) and was a +11. The hype that surrounded him was definitely warranted as the smooth skating, offensively talented defenseman played better than anyone could have asked for.
Fast forward to the trade deadline, and the team trades for Brendan Smith. The gritty and physical defensive defenseman brought some responsibility on the back end that the team needed. Smith tallied 9 points last season, split between his time with the Red Wings and Blueshirts, scoring four of those points with the Rangers.
During the playoffs, this pairing was certainly ready to play on the big stage. After solid play as a pair, the team made it a point to re-sign Smith and keep the pair together. What can be expected from this pair?
Smith and Skjei paired together is a great tandem. Skjei is able to play both ends of the ice and take chances offensively while still having back-end help. That being said, there should be an expectation for Skjei to be able to be free to roam around the ice. This along with Skjei playing on the power play could help boost his numbers.
Smith could potentially have a career season in points (he has a career high of 19). I’m expecting about 20-22 points from no. 42. More importantly, though, Smith can be expected to really help Skjei continue to grow.
The Rangers have some lofty expectations for Brady Skjei. At this early stage of his career, he is performing up to his capabilities as some see him as a potential partner with McDonagh on the first pair. With Smith as his partner, the number two defensive pairing is the perfect pairing.
Over the summer Smith said that Skjei “makes his job easy”. The amazing part is that Smith, in turn, helps Skjei play this game. This pairing is both impressive and growing and will play a big role both keeping the puck out of the net and putting it in the net.