Tag: Brady Skjei

Jake McCabe

World Juniors: Team USA cuts Skjei and Matteau, name McCabe captain


Team USA’s roster for the World Junior Championships is nearly set.

Early this morning, the team announced they cut defenseman Brady Skjei (2012 Rangers first-round pick) and forward Stefan Matteau (2012 Devils first-round pick) to get the roster down to 24 players. They’re awaiting medical news to figure out which defenseman will be the final player cut before the tournament starts on December 26.

Reportedly, it’s Coyotes 2011 first-round pick Connor Murphy that they’re waiting on. TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports he took a puck in the neck and If he’s healthy enough to go for the tournament, he’ll make the cut and head to Ufa.

In the meantime, USA Hockey announced defenseman Jake McCabe as the team captain (pictured). McCabe was the Buffalo Sabres’ second round pick in 2012. Earning the “A” were blue liners Jacob Trouba and Seth Miller as well as forwards Cole Bardreau and J.T. Miller.

Rangers assistant GM thinks 2012 first-rounder Skjei a lot like McDonagh

Brady Skjei

You could say the Rangers have a gem of a defenseman in Ryan McDonagh. What would you say if they had another blue liner just like him waiting in the wings?

That seemingly unfair possibility is true if one high-ranking member of the organization is right about the team’s 2012 first-round pick Brady Skjei as Katie Strang of ESPN-New York reports.

“I think that’s a fair comparison,” Rangers assistant general manager Jeff Gorton said. “He’s a tremendous skater, he has size and a lot of potential.”

That size comes from an 18 year-old who is 6’3″ and 200 pounds and his skating ability and speed is what makes him a likely member of this year’s Team USA World Junior Championships squad. With this year’s tournament in Russia on the larger, international-sized ice sheet, Skjei’s abilities will be put to the test in a big way.

Meanwhile, if Gorton’s high opinion pans out, you’re looking at a Rangers blue line that could have McDonagh, Skjei, Marc Staal, and Michael Del Zotto in the coming years. That might not be too bad.

For now, Skjei has his time with the University of Minnesota and playing for his country to worry about before potentially hitting Broadway.

Team USA’s World Juniors confidence comes from their defense

Seth Jones

HAWTHORNE, NY — One of the strengths Team USA will have when they head into the World Junior Championships is on their blue line. With a future star in 2013 draft prospect Seth Jones as well as three first-round picks in Jacob Trouba, Connor Murphy, and Brady Skjei the American defense will be huge.

One thing is for sure, the guys on the ice believe in the crew they’ve got on the back line as well.

“I think we have a great blue line,” says 2012 Winnipeg Jets first-rounder Jacob Trouba. “We have some diversity with big guys and we have some smaller guys who are shifty. Whoever ends up coming to the tournament, we’ll be good on the blue line.”

Rangers 2012 first-rounder Brady Skjei agrees with him.

“I think we all have a feel for each other. With Jones and Trouba and all them the last couple years, we’re pretty confident we’re a solid D corps.”

The big guys we’ve mentioned already. The small, shifty ones are guys like 2012 third-round picks Matt Grzelcyk (Boston) and Shayne Gostisbehere (Philadelphia). They may not deliver the body, but their quickness and playmaking ability could be useful on the international-sized ice. That’s something coach, and one-time shifty defenseman himself, Phil Housley noticed right away.

“I look at our back end as a whole; I think there’s a lot of guys that can fit that mold,” Housley said. “Certainly Grzelcyk, Gostisbehere and [Mike] Reilly, they have that uncanny ability to jump up in the play.”

While playing on a bigger ice surface doesn’t bother any of the players, the star power they’ll face in Russia is another story. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will lead the way for Canada while the hosts will have guys like Mikhail Grigorenko and Nail Yakupov.

Could the Americans get psyched out by the star power they’ll see from their opponents?

“Not really. We’ve got plenty talent on our team too,” Trouba said. “One player is nothing huge. We’ve played against a lot of them in the past. They’re good but they’re still hockey players too.”

Where will you find a host of intriguing top end defensemen? America

Seth Jones

When you take a look back at the last few drafts, you’ll notice more and more first-round defensemen are coming out of the United States. Take a look at the names from just the last few drafts.

2012: Jacob Trouba, Jordan Schmaltz, Brady Skjei
2011: Connor Murphy
2010: Cam Fowler, Derek Forbort, Jarred Tinordi

At last week’s World Junior development camp in Lake Placid, many of those potential future stars were on display to show what they’re all about against Sweden and Finland and didn’t disappoint.

One future star is Seth Jones (pictured). Jones, the son of former NBA journeyman Ronald “Popeye” Jones, made his second appearance at the camp at just age 17. For a young guy, he’s beaming with confidence.

“I feel pretty comfortable out there with the puck,” Jones said. “Whatever the coach at the next level decides to put me out I’ll be more than happy if I’m on the power play or not.”

Jones’ big size (6’3″ 184) already made him an intimidating presence. Being big is something he enjoys.

“You can’t teach size. I got fortunate with that with my dad being 6’8″. Getting just that half-second to get a stick on the puck with my reach is always good.”

Meanwhile, Team USA coach Phil Housley liked what he saw from all of his defensemen, but Jets first-round pick Jacob Trouba impressed him.

“He can play in all situations and has a calming effect back there,” Housley says. “He’s only going to get better.”

Plenty of high praise to go around for all the top talent and it’s not just limited to first-round picks either as Flyers’ third-round pick Shayne Gostisbehere turned many heads as well.

Things are looking good on the back end in America. Defense wins championships, right?

World Junior Championships evaluation camp kicks off in Lake Placid

Seth Jones

It’s a bit early to start getting excited about the 2013 World Junior Championships set to take place in Russia, but the time to evaluate the talent is now.

The WJC evaluation camp featuring Team USA, Sweden, and Finland kicked off their week of action in Lake Placid, NY today. During the week, the teams will practice and face off against each other in scrimmages and the amount of future NHL talent on display this year is hefty.

Chris Peters at the United States of Hockey previewed the camp extensively and highlighting the Americans group of talent are 2012 third overall pick Alex Galchenyuk (Montreal) and potential 2013 top pick defenseman Seth Jones (pictured).

I’ve written about Jones here after seeing him in last year’s camp as a 16 year-old. Seeing how the son of former NBA player “Popeye” Jones has improved in a year is virtually worth the price of gas to get there.

Joining Galchenyuk and Jones for the USA will be a handful of other 2012 first-round picks in Jacob Trouba (Winnipeg), Jordan Schmaltz (St. Louis), Henrik Samuelsson (Phoenix), Brady Skjei (Rangers), and Stefan Matteau (New Jersey).

Sweden and Finland aren’t slacking off either as the Swedes will have 2012 draftees Filip Forsberg (Washington), Oscar Dansk (Columbus), Pontus Aberg (Nashville), and Hampus Lindholm (Anaheim).  They’ll also have some highly touted 2011 picks in Mika Zibanejad (Ottawa) and Oscar Klefbom (Edmonton) as well.

The Finns will counter with 2012 picks Teuvo Teravainen (Chicago) and Olli Maatta (Pittsburgh) and Sabres 2011 first-round pick Joel Armia who was impressive last year in WJC camp.

PHT will be in Lake Placid this week providing observations of Team USA’s games against both Sweden and Finland on August 8 and 9.