The deck is stacked against Brady Skjei cracking the New York Rangers’ lineup for more than a few games in 2015-16, except for one overriding factor: they want to win now.
With that in mind, he might just have a shot. Maybe.
Seriously though, it will be an uphill battle
On paper, it seems a bit foolish to picture the 21-year-old making it, even as a seventh defenseman.
The Rangers already boast seven blueliners under contract, and that’s assuming that Brett Bellemore cannot convert his PTO into a full contract.
Most teams would require nothing short of brilliance for Skjei to make it, but again, the Rangers are in a position where they might just let the best men win.
Boiling it down
Ultimately, that could mean cutting their losses with someone like Dan Boyle.
Injuries were a problem for the 39-year-old last season, but you know things went poorly when Blueshirt Banter seemed generous in giving him a “C” grade for 2014-15.
It’s tough to bury Boyle and his $4.5 million cap hit on the bench, yet it’s not outside the realm of reason … especially considering the comparison he inspired from Mike Reilly (who’s trying to make a leap of his own with Minnesota):
“Brady has really grown a lot the past three years at [Minnesota],” Reilly told NHL.com. “He’s a great skater, one of the best I’ve ever seen in college. He’s strong, put on some good weight, and he’s very agile. His stick skills are getting better and I think that’s an underrated part of his game. One player I’d compare him to is Ryan McDonagh in the way he plays and leads. Brady is going to have a great career.”
Skjei boasts the right size and speed to fit right into what Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault is looking for, maybe making him a better option than the likes of Bellmore, Boyle or Raphael Diaz.
It would be foolish to pronounce him as a favorite to do so (or to try to pronounce his last name in general), yet he’s a player to watch during training camp.