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Unpacking Brady Skjei’s New Contract

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brady skjei

Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

In case you missed it, Brady Skjei signed a new contract with the Rangers, inking a new one that’ll keep him on the team for 6 years with an AAV of $5.25 million per. It’s an interesting deal on a lot of levels, and although there seems to be a general consensus that it’s a fair contract for both sides, the vague scent of controversy still wafts through the air, with some people disagreeing to that point. All of that is totally fine – reasonable people can always disagree, within reason, and anyways what we’re going to do here today is simply unwind what’s what, at least a little bit, with Brady Skjei and how that new contract looks.

The thing that needs to be said about this contract is what it’s not: a bridge deal. Brady Skjei, not unlike his former compatriot, a similarly smooth-skating Minnesotan, Ryan McDonagh, got the big one straight off his entry level contract. Skjei is 24 right now, with means this new deal will run him right until he’s 30. We’ll get to the bottom of the McDonagh comparison in a little bit, but this is pretty notable, as the Rangers have, or I guess now¬†had, a history of bridging players regardless of the promise showed on their entry level. Now, Jeff Gorton has evidently recognized that in this new era, you need to bet on upside and see if you can get a guy for below market value, at least if not initially then later on, as both the player and the contract attached to him mature.

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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.

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matt beleskey

When the Rangers made the big Rick Nash trade, the prize bounty was the first round pick, Ryan Lindgren, and Ryan Spooner. The name Matt Beleskey caught some attention, but mostly because it appeared to be a salary dump by the Bruins to fit Nash’s salary. Beleskey was finishing up the third year of his five year, $3.8 million cap hit deal, but was doing so in Providence in the AHL.

Beleskey was signed to that deal by the Bruins –one that most thought was a bad deal at the time– after his “monster” 2014-2015 season with Anaheim. Beleskey put up 22 goals and 10 assists that year, and was viewed as a breakout player. After a decent but not worth the salary year in 2015-2016, Beleskey was eventually a healthy scratch and then demoted to the AHL.

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anthony deangelo

Anthony DeAngelo is a polarizing figure for Ranger fans. The key cog –in addition to the 7th overall pick– in the Derek Stepan trade, DeAngelo came to the Rangers with high upside, but has yet to put it together on the roster. He didn’t stick with the Yotes, playing in 39 games before being shipped to New York. Last year, he played 32 games with the big club, notching 8 assists.

DeAngelo, a former first round pick in 2014, is approaching his make or break season. At 22 years old, he either needs to show what he has, or be passed by other, probably less skilled, defensemen in the pipe. There’s no doubt the kid has skill, and perhaps new coach David Quinn can hone that skill into something tangible on the ice. But even then, there are going to be questions regarding DeAngelo.

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Can David Quinn Fix Brendan Smith?

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Hey, remember Brendan Smith? All-around solid defenseman, slated to be on their second pair last year, a potentially perfect partner for Kevin Shattenkirk? Yeah, that guy.

The Rangers acquired Smith in a trade from Detroit at the deadline two seasons ago, and he helped them reach the second round of the playoffs. Despite a rough game six against Ottawa (perhaps a portent of things to come), Smith’s play down the stretch was a revelation. He was the embodiment of the modern “stay-at-home” defenseman; he played a reliable defensive game with an edge, but also moved the puck efficiently and chipped in on offense (seen here):

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Categories : Analysis, Offseason, Players
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mats zuccarello

Photo: Jim McIsaac/Newsday

This one hurts to write, because I love Zucc. But the reality of the situation is that Mats Zuccarello may wind up being traded at the draft this year. He’s a first line player making second line money. He’s good for 50-60 points per year –possibly more on a team with an actual system in place– at just $4.5 million for one more year.

Zuccarello is a great add for any team looking to add scoring. His cap hit makes him even more attractive. But for everything Zuccarello brings, he is 30 and only has one year left on his deal, limiting his return. Even so, if he does get traded, he should –at least in theory– bring in a solid return.

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Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images

The Rangers are in a transition period. The rebuild is in full swing. There are questions about regarding who stays and who goes. One of those questions is on Marc Staal, who has three more years left on his deal with a $5.7 million cap hit. Suffice it to say, it’s not a good contract.

The calls to trade or buyout Staal prior to this year were warranted. His contract was bad, and he was taking up cap space that could have been spent elsewhere. Without that contract, the Rangers probably don’t need to trade Derek Stepan to sign Kevin Shattenkirk, and perhaps this season is different. There’s no guarantee, but it’s something worth calling out. But times have changed in less than a year.

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jimmy vesey

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Jimmy Vesey is an interesting player for the Rangers. A highly sought after college free agent, the former third round pick chose to come to New York after refusing to sign with Nashville. Vesey broke out in his junior year in Harvard, and used that leverage to select his destination.

I mention this only because that hype plays into how he is perceived across the league, especially by fans. That hype, coupled with a pair of seasons where he put up over 15 goals, has only fueled the discussion. Is Jimmy Vesey worth it? Or is he going to become overvalued?

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Projecting Brady Skjei’s next contract

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brady skjei

As we enter the home stretch of this lost season, we are left with hopes of a bright future. The Blueshirts have depth. They have two potential budding stars. But they also have a blue line that is part awful and part horrible. Yes, some of the horribad is due to the system, but some of it is still on the players. That’s why we are seeing a bunch of kids get their shot.

One of the bright spots on the blue line is Brady Skjei. Skjei had a fantastic rookie year, putting up 39 points in 80 games. He took a step back in production this year with just 24 points in 79 games though. There’s more to Skjei’s game than just points, as he’s probably the only left handed defenseman on the team the past two years that can actually move the puck consistently.

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Diamonds in the Rough

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lias andersson filip chytil

The future is now, folks – Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil are both on-ice members of the New York Rangers and for the most part, the fanbase is pleased as punch. After a pretty disappointing year (nonsensical coaching, injuries to star players, general malaise) we finally have something genuine to be excited about, something not couched in caveats or qualifiers. I too, am excited, but unfortunately I have to be the bearer of bad news: although Andersson and Chytil have certainly shown great promise, they’re still diamonds in the rough.

Let’s start with the bad news: last night both Chytil and Andersson got caved in as far as shots go, with Chytil being on ice for 11 shots for and 16 shots against, while Andersson was on ice for 11 shots for and a whopping 21 shots against. Expected goals is a little bit better, with Chytil being on ice for 0.94 xGF and 1.00 xGA, with Andersson being on ice for 0.52 xGF and 1.80 xGA. Not exactly a great night, but Chytil did have his first NHL goal, and made some nice plays with Mats Zuccarello, and the Rangers broadly got hammered in terms of shots and expected goals, so there’s that.

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