Brady Skjei needs to be a main stay on the Rangers blue-line

USA Today

Getty Images

At the end of this season, Brady Skjei is designated to be a restricted free agent. Here is my case on why it’s a no-brainer the Rangers should re-sign him.

As it stands right now, the defensive core of this team is very young. Only Marc Staal, Kevin Shattenkirk and Steven Kampfer eclipse the age of 26 on this current roster. Skjei is still young at 24 and has incredible potential as a two-way defender.

This season has certainly not gone as well as his rookie campaign. Nevertheless, he is leading the defense in points. The return of Shattenkirk will be crucial as Skjei will probably move to the left side of him.

As for the financials, he is definitely not worth $5 million AAV, especially after this season. As Phil Kocher of The Hockey Writers wrote, “In many ways, the Rangers may have even benefited from his second-season slip. Skjei’s particularly poor outing this year in which his P/GP pace has fallen by nearly 50% from his rookie season have probably knocked a few shekels off his asking price.”

In my eyes, he should be around a mid-to-high three, maybe even low four range, and for four years. Give him enough time to grow through the rebuild and come out of it with an opportunity to prove himself in those last two seasons.

He has stayed relatively healthy for these first two seasons, only missing two games as a rookie and appearing in all 71 so far this season. That durability is key to the rebuild, as the Rangers cannot afford to be playing with one or two down defensemen.

Skjei has the ability to move the puck up the ice and counterattack. Evident in this clip, Skjei muscles off the defender around his own net, finds an open lane and takes it. This leads to a mad dash up ice to create a positive scoring chance.

This still doesn’t go without saying, the guy makes mistakes, often times very costly ones. But, the positives from him outweigh the negatives. He will be 24 at the end of this month and has only logged two seasons in the NHL. Give Skjei a chance to work on his game and build chemistry with the up and coming defensemen as well as some of the veterans like Staal and Shattenkirk.