Jul
19

Is commiting to Brady Skjei long term a smart move?

July 19, 2018, by
brady skjei

Bruce Bennet/Getty Images

Brady Skjei isn’t the most talked about RFA this offseason, as Kevin Hayes seems to be taking that honor, however he is still an important offseason move for the Rangers. Skjei, coming off his entry level deal, is due a significant raise, and one that may shape the blue line for years to come.

The 24 year old former first round pick had one of the best rookie defensemen years we’ve seen on Broadway since Brian Leetch. Skjei put up five goals and a whopping 34 assists in that first year. However his stats regressed big time last season, with a line of 4-21-25. The goals were more or less there, but the assists weren’t.

The interesting thing about Skjei is that while he may have had a down year, he’s still pretty good at putting up points. He’s ranked in the upper half among all defensemen in Game Score, and is still a good assist generator.

When it comes to his possession stats, it’s tough to argue that he generated a positive impact. He wasn’t good at driving shots, and he wasn’t good at preventing them –or quality chances, for that matter– either. It’s tough to really argue with the numbers. However you can argue with the situation.

I’m not going to beat a dead horse, but the Rangers were bad defensively the past two years. Some of it is on the players, but I’m convinced –or at least I convinced myself, so I don’t really know what’s worse– that the majority of the poor play was due to the system. Again, not going to beat the dead horse, I’ve spent a ton of space here going into it.

Skjei’s skill set is that he’s a smooth skating defenseman who makes a good first pass. Clearly we need some time in a more structured defensive zone system to analyze his play in the defensive zone, but it’s a skill set that the Rangers are building their blue line around.

Looking at Matt Cane’s salary model, Skjei is projected to earn $2.8 million on a one year deal, if that’s what he signs. Getting into some of the longer term deals –using five years, taking him through his age-29 season– he is projected to earn $4.1 million. A six year deal, taking him through age-30, it’s $4.6 million.

When committing to a player long term, there is always risk involved. For Skjei, it’s about whether the system was to blame for his issues, or if it really is just what to expect of the blue liner. However he was relied upon heavily in Minnesota as a defensive defenseman, which leads me to believe it was the system.

Considering the amount of cap space the Rangers currently have, they are able to take a risk like this without it impacting them too much long term. If they hit on Skjei, then it’s a gamble that has paid off. If not, then they are rebuilding for most of these years anyway, with oodles of cap space to work with. I lean towards signing him long term.

"Is commiting to Brady Skjei long term a smart move?", 4 out of 5 based on 19 ratings.
Categories : Players

49 comments

  1. Richter1994 says:

    I would have said 5-6 years at $4.5M per, so the suggested long-term contract is about right.

    Considering he’s our top pair LH D man, that contract would be pretty cheap. And make no mistake, he is our top pair D man, for good or for bad. I think good, ultimately.

    • mintgecko says:

      He’s a top pair by default and he hasn’t proved that he can come close to handling that role. I’ve watched a couple of old Ranger games from his rookie season in late October and he wasn’t even that good as a sheltered 3rd pair. He cashed in on assist due to the team exploding in offense at the time. Make no mistake that his game has been going down ever since the summer of 2017 when he played for team USA. He was really bad in that tournament.

      • Richter1994 says:

        “He’s a top pair by default”

        I do not disagree with that at all, and this is probably correct, as I said “for good or for bad.”

        But the Sens playoff series, Brady was dominant. We get that from him at under $5M per for 5-6 years then it’s a steal, similar to what we got from McD after his long-term deal.

      • Art says:

        Brady might have been our best defenseman in the 2017 playoffs.

        Yes he regressed last year but is that really unexpected given the overall decline in team defense not to mention the constant shuffling of defensive partners.

        Quinn will fix Brady and he will become a solid 2nd pair if not a 1st pair guy. Bet on it!!

    • Hockey Post says:

      I like Skjei too. He’s our top Dman right now and even if he ends up being a 2nd pair Dman when the Rangers can contend again, $4.5 mil per will look good by then.

      I would also like to question the “bridge deal.” Look at Derek Stepan. He choked on his 2 year deal then got huge dollars as a UFA. I would argue that it’s cheaper to buy those early UFA years now, than in 2 years when he will soon be free to sign anywhere.

      • Richter1994 says:

        I think Skjei is in the same position as McD. If you think he’s a top 4 guy, and I think we all agree that he is, then $4.5M per is not out of whack by any means, even if he plays 2nd pair.

        I agree with you.

  2. SalMerc says:

    Pay the guy for 4 years at $4m per

  3. Reenavipul says:

    Now *this* is a guy you go 5 years, frontloaded with a heavy guarantee on the 1st 3 seasons. 5 yrs, $4mm AAV. 1st 2 seasons a $4.9 mm bonus along with a minimum paragraph 1 salary, a little less bonus in yr 2 as the paragraph 1 goes up. At the back end it’s $2.8mm total, still minimum paragraph 1.

    • EmiletheCat says:

      I understand that the AAV remains the same, but what is the purpose of front loading the contract? Would that make it easier to trade him down the line?

      • Walt says:

        Cat

        Yes!

        Seller dwellers like the Coyotes, and Senators want these type of contracts to hit the minimum floor, while paying a lot less. That seems to be the MO for the Sens under Melynk!!!!

      • Reenavipul says:

        Any team getting revenue sharing(which is basically the bottom 20 teams) will take contracts like that on to have an inflated cap hit number in order to solidytheir profit.

        As a counterpoint, Vesey’s 2 year contract pays more in year 2 than year 1. It’s not enough to deter anybody, but it’s there.

      • Hatrick Swayze says:

        Certainly one benefit is ease of trade down the line.

        If you pay a guy 6 / 5 / 4 / 3 mil over a 4 year deal his AAV (cap hit) works out to be 4.5 million. The last two years of the deal a team only has to pay him 3 or 4 mil in real dollars but gets 4.5 mil worth of credit towards the cap floor. Its attractive to stingy owners. Exactly why we were able to trade Brassard to Ottawa for a player with similiar counting stats while being 6 years his junior in Mika Zibanejad.

        • Hatrick Swayze says:

          lol, do i hear an echo in here??

        • mintgecko says:

          How was Zib close to Brass stats? in 2 seasons when he played 80 games, he only put up 51 and 46 points with a career high of like 21 goals at the time. He was suppose to be the next center after Alfredsson and failed miserably. He saw top 6 minutes and PP time. I will never understand why some fans act like Zib is some 50 point player. Narratives I guess…. It’s probably why it would be a toss up between him and Hayes if a big trade needs to go down.

          • Reenavipul says:

            Since the trade, Zib has 1 point less in 20 something fewer games played, so there’s that.

      • Reenavipul says:

        The benefit of going bonus driven is that after July 1(or so) is that you drive down the out of pocket expense for the cheapskates even lower.

  4. jeff says:

    I’d like to see the Rangers maintain flexibility going forward. SalMercs’ suggestion of 4yrs- $4.0 million per seems fair, without a no move clause. Today, July, 2018 he is the 1st pair LHD. Two years from now, one of the many LHD the Rangers have coming may overtake him. If he proves two years into his deal that he will remain the 1st pair LHD, extend his contract for two more years at the market rate for a 1st pair D, and negotiate a form of a no move clause.

    • Chris A says:

      If those young Ds managed to pass Skjei on the depth chart, they would still be on ELCs so Skjei being paid like a top pair D wouldn’t be a huge issue.

    • SalMerc says:

      Agreed. If you want to front load a bonus, I also would be okay with that so if in 2 years he is now a middle pair defenseman, we can move him at a trade-able price.

  5. Walt says:

    “However he was relied upon heavily in Minnesota as a defensive defenseman, which leads me to believe it was the system”

    How many times have we stated “It the system” ? We all know it was…..

    Think back to when AV first arrived, and implemented his system. Staal, Girardi, Mac Truck, and the rest of the veteran defense had a difficult time adjusting to it. Not because they were poor players, but because the system was piss poor, and it took time for the vets to adjust. What can we expect from the younger players to do? Not much, and not well. The games were very one sided for some time early on until they grasped the concept.

    Brady is a solid player. Given a system that he understands, he can play defense as well, as per your own words. The guy can score as well, what’s not to like? I agree that a 5-6 year contract at $4.5, $4.7 range is fair, and will be cheap down the road. If we develop better d-men, he goes to the second pair, and or even gets traded for a decent return due to his cost down the road. The only thing I’d make certain about, in no damn way o we give him a NMC, period!!!!!!!!!

    • Andy says:

      Completely agree Walt. And look at Hayes. Had a tough second year and really rebounded last year. We would have been better off giving him a longer term deal but we settled for the Bridge deal. Long term Cap certainty with guys like Skjei will be important as we improve in the next few years.

      The system was a mess last year, but so was the team in general. New team, new coach, new system and longer term new contract makes a lot of sense for Skjei now. Especially since we have the cap space. We settled on bridge deals in the past when we were close to winning because we needed the space. Now we have tons, so let’s us it wisely.

      • mintgecko says:

        Yeah difference is that Hayes played with crap, in a crap role and surrounded by crap like with Stalberg and Glass. He still managed to put up what the good 3rd center’s generally do with more ice time and PP.

        Skjei is going down a slippery slope. He wasn’t ready to be a top pair last year so now you’re banking on that he will? The faults in the system narratives was said about Kreider as well. People use to act like the freedom of going west and east will make him a better player. Sorry but I don’t see his game coming along as a top 4 player against stiffer competition

        • Andy says:

          I don’t recall Hayes spending much time with Glass. And Skjei played with? Hedman? Keith? Doughty? Karlsson? in a D system that was ? awesome? I don’t see Skjei played with the best D talent ever.

          Skjei had an off year in his sophomore year just like Hayes did. It’s ok , it happens. As I recall Sjkei had a good play off vs Pittsburgh in 15-16. And he was one of the few who played well, and a pretty solid play off run paired with Smith in 16-17. And AV choose to consistently put Staal and Holden out with a minute left so we could give up a goal then lose in OT. Habs, Senators ring a bell. I think it’s a bit short sighted to benchmark his career on last season.

  6. amy herman says:

    it is a good idea because you will build your defense around brady and kevin for this year

  7. chrisqct says:

    I agree with almost everything you wrote. I think it was the system more than anything else.

    You also (correctly) undercut the fancy analytics and tossed them out the window when it was more obviously the system and coaching. I hope you realized that, because it perfectly illustrated the debates around here that these kinds of stats are influenced by the systems, teammates, coaches, and situations much more than the individual player. I think this post is great though because you didn’t rely just on the stats to tell the story…. you actually rebutted them.

    Brady Skjei is a solid young dman that we should not be concerned about signing long term. Similar to McDonagh, I feel he will be worth way more in a couple of years if we try to bridge him here. A little more money and years now would save A LOT later on.

  8. Johnny Red says:

    Why is it these days nothing is a person’s fault, everything is someone else’s fault. In life we make decisions on our own. Sure there a circumstances which occur that can effect it, but the bottom line is we make the choice.
    With this team all I heard was how everything is A.V.’s fault (ie Trump all over the news ) So what about the good he did, does that not count? Do I agree A.V. played a defense I didn’t like, yes. The bottom line is these guys get paid big money to play their sports, so for me the buck stops here. No matter what the differences you do your job period!
    How many of us had bosses we didn’t like or got screwed by them? Did we not do our work so we didn’t lose our job? I’m so sick and tired of hearing: IT’S NOT MY FAULT! Look in the mirror and realize your life is where it’s at because of the things you decided to do.

  9. Randy says:

    Need to lock this kid up. Only 24 years old and already has a lot of playoff experience and is our top LHD. He contributes on offense, is a great skater, makes good first passes, and occasionally lays the body (moreso than most other guys on the team I would say).

    5 yrs 4.25m

  10. Bloomer says:

    Lock Skjei up for 4-5 years if the terms are reasonable. His skating is exceptional, but still has more to learn about playing in his own zone. I like to see him use his size more and win more puck battles.

  11. Peter says:

    “LOCK HIM UP!”

    I think it is a no-brainer. He will be a relative bargain at somewhere in the $4.25 – $4.5 mil range. Defenders with his skills don’t grow on trees. He is only 24, why not lock him up for his best years as a player for a reasonable rate. Talent is there that justifies that salary range. I am expecting him to have a much better year under Quinn this coming season than he did last season.

  12. NJAvsHockey says:

    I think the Rangers must absolutely lock up Brady. I’d give him 7 years $5.5-6 AAV right now. He’s shown enough in his first two years, and locking him up after a down year is essential. Despite a plethora of new defensive prospects, it’s impossible to win in this league with 4 rookies on the blue line.

    If we bridge Brady, it’d be an absolute travesty. Imagine if we had bridged McDonagh, after his bridge would’ve had to sign him to a 6-7 year $6.5-7M AAV, which we’d be in year 2-3 of right now… Not a fun thought, as good as Mac was, much harder to move that contract with another 5 years on it.

    • Reenavipul says:

      You don’t bridge him, but you don’t sign him to stupid money for stupid term. Age 31, really?

      • NJAvsHockey says:

        31 is smack in the middle of a players prime… locking up his most expensive years. Absolute no brainer.

        Plus an increasing cap year over year. By the time he’s 29-31, a 5.5-6M AAV is going to be a high end 2nd pair d-man market value.

        I don’t see how 7 years is stupid term and i don’t see how 5.5-6M is stupid money today. In 3-4 years it could be a steal.

        • Chris A says:

          NJAvs, 31 is smack in the middle of a players’ prime?

          This is 100% false and a big reason why hockey fans tend to (wrongly) go nuts over free agents. Hockey players hit their prime around 24 and it lasts until about 27. Anything after that is usually a sharp decline in production. The NHL’s UFA rules are flawed because they are still working on the old aging curves from the 90s and 00s where a player’s prime did indeed extend into their 30s. Now, the game is way too fast and most NHL’ers fade as soon as they lose a bit of speed in their late 20s. Of course, most players hit UFA status around age 27. The perfect age for a team to get locked into a horrendous contract with a player whose performance is about to fall off a cliff.

          31 is the end of most players’ careers. For the stars, 31 tends to be the decline phase of their careers and they are already or about to become bottom 6 role players. Only a handful of NHL players are still in their prime after 31. Look up NHL aging curves and you will see for yourself how old 31 actually is in the modern NHL

          Watch Tavares in Toronto over the next 7 years. By his age 31 season he likely becomes a 50-60 point guy. A nice, useful player, but not an $11M per year player. No one would confuse a season like that with one from Tavares’ prime years.

          The really strange thing about your comment is that your criticism of McD’s extension in Tampa means you understand the fact that McD is too old to make that kind of money and that Tampa overpaid him for too many years. You just didn’t apply that logic to extending Skjei.

          From a Rangers perspective, the perfect contract for Skjei is 8 years at $4M per. Contract expires after Brady’s age 32 season and tons of cap space was saved. Yes, Brady would have left a lot, and I mean a lot, like maybe an extra $30M on the table, in years 4-8 of that contract, but he would make $32M over 8 years. If it was bumped up to $5M per season, that’s a deal I think both sides would be thrilled with.

          • NJAvsHockey says:

            I’m a bit confused with your argument as it seems we both agree extending him long term is the right idea. I say 7 years, you say 8. He’s 24. A contract to 31-32 years old, anywhere between 4-6M is a GREAT deal for NYR.

            My criticism of the Mac extension again, is in line with my anti-bridge deal mentality for Brady. We bridge him now, and at the end he is the same age as Mac is now… and then we have to give him a Mac deal…. not good.

            Extend him long term now. 6-7 years ideally, anything below 6M AAV, I think is a great deal. Overpay a little now, and hopefully the gamble pays off and he’s a bargain by age 27-28.

            I do agree that majority of players careers are on the tail end by 30-31, but I consider Brady to be a very above-average player. I’m well versed in aging curves. The decline begins around 30, and steep decline begins around 32, for defensemen, as their prime begins a bit later due to developmental matters, compared to forwards. So perhaps I should have said tail end of his prime, versus smack in the middle. I got excited.

            • Chris A says:

              You’re 100% right on Skjei.

              It was the 31 is a players prime comment that riled me up. I didn’t want this to be a personal attack and I hope you didn’t take it that way. I want Rangers fans to learn, as you apparently already have, that times have changed and we need to re-calibrate how we view veterans and free agents.

              The past 6 weeks of reading about how the Rangers need to sign JT this summer and Panarin next summer broke me.

              • NJAvsHockey says:

                Nah not a personal attack you’re all good. I actually think JT leaving the Island might have been the best thing for the Islanders (granted they went and spent that money on 15 4th liners, so that’s on them, but regardless…. haha).

                It’s tough, because you don’t get elite talent without locking them up long term, and I generally side with the argument that players don’t have much power over their own destiny, so if you get to UFA – damn right you go get that $$ and term. It’s rare you get a guy like Shatty who leaves term and $$ on the table, but come 2021-2022, very possible the leafs are not happy with this JT contract when Nylander is a victim.

            • Reenavipul says:

              The decline for D accelerates at 30, but had already begun at 26.

              24 yr old players aren’t going to sign for 8 years except for stupid money as it will be their last good contract to sign. Their agents will want them to go to yr28-29 so they can get one more overpay like McDonagh did.

    • stevesse says:

      There is no way he deserves a LT contract. He is a wait and see player. He was so bad last year that it doesn”t make any sense. His passing was atrocious. I never saw so many whiffs from a guy that had such a good first year. He had more giveaways then any other dman, and his out of position play was just as bad. Let’s wait and see if it was the system or the player.

      • Matt says:

        Ideally you could wait and see on all players. Mitigate risk. To win in this league, you have to take some risks, calculated, but risks none-the-less

        What’s his floor? 2nd pair dman? Even in his down sophomore year, I’d say that’s fair.

        I’m fine taking a risk on a floor 2nd pair dman, ceiling high end (not elite) dman. Bridging him now for 2 years will be great value, and 2 years from now, right when we’re going to be able to contend again… we’re going to have to pay him 7+, with term (5-6 years). Whereas we could just sign him now, 6-7 years, 5.5 per.

        Give the kid term, takes him to 30, 5.5 is MORE than manageable.

      • Chris A says:

        Any D that can skate and move the puck like Skjei does will be a perfectly fine top 4 D in the NHL.

        Yes, last season was a train wreck. If Brady is so demoralized by last season, then I can see it stunting his development. Of course, if he’s so sensitive that he is demoralized by last season, there are larger underlying issues in play that would ultimately sabotage his career.

        TL;DR Brady will be fine

      • Egelstein says:

        Among NHL defenders who played 82 games last season (which is only 29 players, a fact that also is a plus for him), Brady had the 12th least amount of giveaways. There are a number of big names further down that list than him, and many who gave away less are, predictably, far less offensive-minded and/or were in a more conservative system. You’ve picked an interesting hill to die on, there.

        Additionally, everyone was out of position. Constantly. The deployment decisions generally ranged from questionable to embarrassing. The system and coaching, simply put, were atrocious. You can make that determination right now, no need to wait.

  13. agentsmith says:

    this may seem like a hot-take but I see skjei with a Brendan smith upside. I predicted that once Shattenkirk was in the fold his production would decrease bc less pp time and secondary assists. I just don’t think he has the o-tools to be a #1 pairing or pp1 guy.

  14. howiehockey says:

    Skjei has played two years at the NHL level,one very goo year and one bad.
    I believe it is too early to give him any long-term contract… better to give him two years at $3.5 mill and then go from there.
    The Rangers have a history of over-paying their d-men…the one exception was Ryan McDonagh.
    Let Skjei prove himself, then reward him if he lives up to his potential.

  15. JoeS. says:

    No contracts over 4 years.

    • Reenavipul says:

      I’ll do 4 years for a yr28 player 8 days a week.

      I’ll do an 8 year deal for a yr 23 coming off an ELC if they’re good enough.

      Everybody else? If you’re top 6 F or top 4 D, I’m looking to lock you up until yr28 right after ELC expires.

      If you’re under 25 and a bottom 6 F, 3rd pair D, I still might lock you up long term just for the trade value.

      After that? It’s a free for all.

  16. Township Rebellion says:

    Get Trouba

  17. tanto says:

    We’ve seen what Brady can do, sign him long term,

  18. Lyndon Moquist says:

    Lock up Brady for 6 years , $30 million. Fair for both sides. Huge upside with combo of speed, skills, and leadership qualities at age 24.