Brady Skjei: Overhyped or Future Star?

Skjei (Bruce Bennet/Getty Images)

Skjei (Bruce Bennet/Getty Images)

Brady Skjei has all the physical tools to be at the very least a solid NHL defenseman. At 6’3″ and 206 pounds, he is an imposing figure on the ice. He has shown good skating ability but has certainly had his fair share of mistakes. This is natural for a 21 year old kid who has after Tuesday’s game in Buffalo, 4 career NHL starts.

None of these numbers will blow you away. Matter of fact, if I told you a young prospect defenseman from any other NHL team has zero points, an even rating and 4 shots on goal in 14:30 average TOI, you wouldn’t even blink. Those who are into advanced stats would laugh at that player’s 43% CF to go along with his sheltered minutes (23% DZFO%).

Yet almost every time he plays, fans seem to be over the moon about this kid. Is it justified? Or is it just that some fans love to try and be in front of the next “big” thing? If you are in the analytics crowd, you are already biased to think “anything is better than Girardi or Staal!” The truth is, there is no real indication that Brady Skjei is the next young stud defenseman. Comparisons at this time to Ryan McDonagh are quite frankly…absurd.

So before I give you my scouting report, here’s what the premiere prospect website, Hockey’s Future has him ranked. His “rating” is a 7.5 which projects him as a 2nd pair defenseman and his “probability for success” is a C which means he has shown flashes of reaching that potential but is no guarantee.

[su_quote cite=”Hockey’s Future” url=”http://www.hockeysfuture.com/prospects/brady_skjei/”]Skjei is a two-way defenseman whose game is stronger on the defensive side than it is on offense. He plays a sound game in his own end of the ice, is a very good skater for a player of his size, and has excellent hockey sense.[/su_quote]

Sorry if in just 4 NHL games of watching Skjei you already see Norris Trophy potential.

Skjei

Skjei

So far this season, Alain Vigneault has used terms like “high end” and “highly skilled” but he’s coupled that with he’s played “alright”. None of which is eye opening either way. We know that Skjei possesses talent and that given consistent playing time can easily be a serviceable defenseman. Looking at the Rangers cap situation coming this summer, they may be forced to find out as soon as game 1 next season.

Here’s the deal, Skjei appears to have what it takes to make the NHL. Now whether he is going to be an All Star or even a Norris Trophy candidate – that’s a long ways away. He was also just sent back to Hartford but will likely be recalled for Saturday’s game against the Red Wings should Marc Staal not be ready. In addition, he could get some extended time with the club now that Dylan McIlrath will be out several weeks with a knee injury.

I think if Skjei could play a few games in a row, we might get a much better look at where we can project him for next season. For now, it certainly looks like we won’t be able to truly tell until the opening of next year’s training camp.