University of Minnesota d-man and first-round pick Brady Skjei has passed on returning for his senior season to join the New York Rangers’ AHL affiliate in Hartford, according to Let’s Play Hockey.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) April 1, 2015
Skjei, 21, was the 28th overall pick at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and has spent the last three seasons in Minnesota. A former U.S. National Development Team member, Skjei is a big-bodied rearguard (6-foot-3, 206 pounds) that the Rangers were hoping would turn pro after the Gophers’ season ended last week with a NCAA regional semifinal defeat to Minnesota-Duluth.
Per the Post, Skjei could be eligible to join the Rangers for this year’s playoffs if he shows well enough in Hartford, and there does appear to be a potential spot up for grabs — Kevin Klein is still out injured, Matt Hunwick has struggled, and AHL farmhand Chris Summers recently made his Rangers debut in Sunday’s 5-2 loss to Washington.
UPDATE: Terms of Skjei’s deal have been announced. He’s signed on an AHL amateur tryout (ATO) for this season, meaning he’s ineligible to join the Rangers for the postseason. His entry-level contract will kick in at the start of next season.