Brady Skjei: The Future Leader for the Rangers D-Corps

Skjei (Getty)

Skjei is a rising star (NYR)

The New York Rangers are currently struggling to keep up with the speed and consistency of the game lately. Now, the organization is starting to look at opportunities for producing greater outcomes on the ice. Recently, there has been speculation on the potential trades of several players on the active roster. With trade talk in the air, I cannot help but think how the spotlight will reflect on number 76, Brady Skjei.

It is no surprise that Skjei has made a name for himself in the short amount of time he has been a Ranger. Since Brady Skjei has debuted December 15, 2015 against the Edmonton Oilers, he has been a player kept under the magnifying glass. For those unfamiliar, the Minnesota native was drafted by the New York Rangers with the number 28 pick in the 2012 NHL Draft. Skjei has made it clear so far on this journey of his focus on improving his game and dominating his position on the ice throughout various interviews with the New York Rangers.

Glimpse of Skjei’s Promise

Skjei made his first appearance in the playoffs during the 2015-16 season where he was introduced to the intense atmosphere all NHL teams compete to reach. Although the Rangers fell to the Penguins in the first round, Brady was able to stick out with his skill set. Brady has been a competitor in several organizations and leagues therefore, the amount of effort that he needed to dedicate was easily accommodated into his game. As a result of his performance, Brady was offered an opportunity to make his position permanent on the active roster for the upcoming 2016-17 season.

Skjei’s Rookie Season

Brady Skjei’s official rookie season surpassed much speculation given his age, experience and overall performance in NHL. During his rookie season, he played 80 games obtaining 5 goals with 34 assists totaling 39 points. He made his presence known each game he touched the ice through his speed, ability to make plays and making great judgement on the ice when opponents try to make advances. He was even named to the NHL All-Rookie Team joining two other defenseman, Brian Leetch (1988-89) and Michael Del Zotto (2009-10) in franchise history.

Given that Brady has had significant ice time, I believe he has proven that he has what it takes for the demand of physicality on the ice. Yes, he may only be in his second regular season but, I truly see his potential. In the case that trades do occur, I believe it would further assist in pushing Brady Skjei to develop into the player he is destined to be. A significant moment that highlighted Skjei’s abilities to make judgement calls and provide an outcome occurred during the 2017 playoffs against the Ottawa Senators which is featured below.

 

Skjei for the W

Skjei has the heart, determination and grit to take on the responsibility of our current captain, Ryan McDonagh’s position. I’m not necessarily stating Brady should be given the honor to wearing the “C” patch on his sweater off the bat. However, it has not gone unnoticed that McDonagh’s game is struggling and no longer up to par in comparison to his previous seasons. Brady Skjei has proven to be reliable in crunch time therefore, he is more than capable to step up to the demands of his position if Ryan McDonagh trades in his Rangers sweater for another team.

In the next three to five years, I envision Skjei reaching mastery over his position along with contributing more offensively and making an even bigger impact on the ice. Brady has had the opportunity of being mentored by Jeff Beukeboom during his rookie season therefore, he has adapted much of Beukeboom’s lessons into his efforts on the ice over the past season. As some may know, Beukeboom played on the top defensive pairing with Brian Leetch and was an alternate captain during his time with the Blueshirts. Due to Beukeboom’s influence, Brady has been exposed to a first-hand experience of an ideal player that was critical to the Rangers during the 90s. I envision Skjei being a top defenseman, bringing an overall game like Brian Leetch.

In addition, I wouldn’t doubt that Brady would obtain a form of leadership on the team given his ability to communicate with his teammates and competitive nature. Brady allows his competitive nature to feed into his game which is exactly the type of drive needed to push everyone else to follow suit. He wants to win games and obtain those two points. He wouldn’t hesitate to call out fellow teammates if they are lacking in some departments or need an encouragement speech every now and then. Brady Skjei’s attitude and overall focus is needed to be implemented by all Blueshirts on the ice which is why I cannot see anyone else more suited for the job.