With defenseman Dan Girardi ailing with a knee injury, the Rangers recalled Brady Skjei from Hartford for tonight’s game against the Oilers. For the 21-year old Lakeville, Minnesota native who was taken in the first round in the 2012 NHL Draft, it’s a chance to show what he’s got on Broadway.
It’s definitely exciting for Skjei and for Blueshirt fans to finally see what Skjei can do. Following a strong camp and preseason, he was sent down. In his first pro season, there’s no reason to rush him. That’s why he’s played with the Wolf Pack learning under Hartford coach Ken Gernander and former defenseman Jeff Beukeboom who did a great job with former 2010 first rounder Dylan McIlrath.
After spending three seasons playing for the Minnesota Golden Gophers in college, Skjei has two goals and nine assists totaling 11 points with four penalty minutes and a minus-nine rating in 27 games for Hartford. The 11 points pace all Wolf Pack defensemen as do the nine helpers.
It’ll be interesting to see how Rangers coach Alain Vigneault deploys him. This is a young player who will be making his NHL debut at the World’s Most Famous Arena. With Girardi out, does Vigneault try McIlrath on the top pair with Ryan McDonagh or will he go with someone else? It’s hard to figure out. Dan Boyle has played better lately. Vigneault has rewarded him with more minutes.
With Kevin Klein still recovering from an oblique strain and Girardi finally getting a night off, it’s a bit of a dilemma for Vigneault and assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson. Do they break up Keith Yandle and McIlrath? Figure Samuelsson to mix and match for shifts.
What that means for Skjei remains to be seen. He’s definitely got the skill set. A strong skater and puck mover, he should aid the Rangers from a possession aspect. Will there be nerves? Maybe the nervous energy will help once he gets in a couple of shifts. It should be fun to watch.