It’s not an ideal situation for the New York Rangers to be in, but it looks like they’ll be without captain Ryan McDonagh when the playoffs open next week.
McDonagh suffered a small break of the metacarpal bones in his right hand after blocking a shot in Monday’s game against Columbus, according to the NY Post.
His absence means that someone will have to step up. That someone might just be former first round pick Brady Skjei. The 22-year-old was the 28th overall pick in the 2012 draft and although he only has six games of NHL experience under his belt, he feels he’s ready to be a regular at the next level.
“Mentally, I feel like I can play [in the NHL] since the first call-up; I thought I played pretty well and right then I knew I could play here,” Skjei said, per the New York Post. “So I’m just taking it day-by-day.”
Skjei’s first full professional season went reasonably well. He had four goals, 28 points and 36 penalty minutes in 68 games with the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack this season.
“I think we can all see it in his skill set, the skating ability, the beating-the-first-forechecker ability,” said head coach Alain Vigneault. “It’s like any other young player in the league, you have to know when to go, when to give, when it’s the better time to stay back and make the right reads.”
The Rangers will certainly miss McDonagh, there’s no way around that. But if the rookie can just provide New York with some steady play until their captain returns, they’ll take it.
“Personally, it’s good for me,” Skjei said. “But you lose a guy like McDonagh [or] Girardi, it definitely hurts the team a little bit. So I’m just trying to do my best and see what happens.”