Brady Skjei needs to play

Skjei (Bruce Bennet/Getty Images)

Skjei (Bruce Bennet/Getty Images)

For Better or Worse, Brady Skjei Need to Play.

The off-season has come and gone. Training camp is here now, that’ll be over soon too.

The Rangers open the season Thursday, at home against the rival Islanders, a team they’ve had trouble with recently. Hockey is finally here! What’s not here though, is the shiny new top four defenseman most following the team were banking on this summer.

No, indeed the Rangers are rolling into the new campaign with this same group of players on the back end that contributed heavily to last year’s shortcomings. Take Keith Yandle and Dan Boyle out of the picture, and the Blueshirts are in worse shape than they were five months ago, undoubtedly.

What they’re left with, it isn’t going to translate to wins. We’ve been through this plenty of times: the guys who log big minutes can’t handle the task like they once could.

This is why I’m calling on Alain Vigneault to do something maybe a little unorthodox– certainly by his standards.

Give Brady Skjei top-four minutes right off the bat.

It’s quite simple really. We’ve known for a long time now the limitations facing our current group of veteran defensemen. I’m so sick of beating this into the ground that I won’t even mention them by name. I’ll allow you to infer.

In Skjei’s case, coming into the playoffs and logging nearly 19 minutes of ice-time per game as a 22 year old, and playing well in the process, clearly shows his ceiling is higher than what’s currently in place.

It’s kind of like when some parents throw their infants into swimming pools to teach them how to swim. They know the ability is there, and they trust it to come through in the end.

Young Skjei needs to be given a ton of minutes, and be allowed to find his way. It’s been known that Skjei plays on his off-hand right side, as he did in the playoffs last season. There is certainly a void there Skjei could fill with ease.

Plus, if you’re already putting a player there who is bound to make mistakes, especially in his own end, then what do you have to lose? At least with Skjei, positive development is a virtual guarantee.

This much is obvious: The Rangers have a young player with the skill set to be a solid, long term asset. With the organizations weakness on defense, they can’t afford to screw it up with Skjei. He can help now too, though.

By making him a fringe, 6/7th defenseman, Vigneault would be shooting the team in the foot. Both now, and in the future. There is no evidence that shows a young player is better off sitting in the sky box three times a week.

Throw baby Brady in the pool, and let him sink or swim right here and now.

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