Archive for Brady Skjei
Kevin Klein left the game early against Carolina on Monday, with an announcement coming later that the defenseman would miss 2-3 weeks with a strained oblique muscle. While Klein’s injury is a serious blow to the Rangers’ struggling defensive group, crises often beget opportunity in strange ways. The absence of Klein will almost certainly mean significant playing time for Dylan McIlrath, but I’d like to suggest that the conditions might be right for Brady Skjei to receive an extended look in New York.
First, it’s important to sketch out clearly what losing Kevin Klein means for the team. Among Rangers defensemen (not counting Dylan McIlrath because of the small sample size issue), Klein has the highest even strength CF%, at 49.37%, just slightly above Keith Yandle’s 49.27%. Boyle is the next highest, at 46.97%, followed by Marc Staal, Ryan McDonagh, and Dan Girardi logging average CF percentages of 44.32%, 43.53%, and 38.74% respectively. Suffice to say that this defensive group is struggling both individually (Ryan McDonagh’s issues have been noted before by Chris, for example) and collectively, with no Rangers defenseman coming in above 50%. Despite these grim defensive numbers across the board, Kevin Klein has still been one of the most effective defensemen the Rangers have lately.
There are many reasons to hope Dan Boyle can get his game to the point where he sticks in the Rangers line-up in what appears to be his final season as an NHL defenseman. First of all, if Boyle improves it would surely bring with it a ripple effect on the Rangers blueline – his improved play would solidify the Rangers’ top six. It would also likely mean he’s helped influence an indifferent powerplay (despite just two PP assists only Keith Yandle averages more PP ice time among Rangers blueliners). It would also likely mean that the Rangers have continued to win games meaning management don’t prioritise changes to their experienced but at this point underwhelming (as a unit) blueline.
The most important reason to hope for a short term Dan Boyle resurgence however currently resides outside of the New York spotlight. It’s Brady Skjei. Not every young college alumni can Ryan McDonagh themselves to the NHL. Not every defenseman is ready after a few weeks of pro ice time and the Rangers should (and likely have) absolutely no interest in rushing their prized asset. Dan Boyle’s situation however massively influences the Rangers immediate attitude toward Skjei.
The Rangers have now past the ten game mark of the new season, and will be taking on the cellar-dwelling Toronto Maple Leafs tonight at Madison Square Garden in search of a 7-2-2 start. There has been much to analyze in the early going, so naturally I have some thoughts…
1. Mainstream media analysis, especially in the early goings of a season, is especially broad. Good starts, slow starts and unexpected performers litter the narrative landscape. Reading publications like The Hockey News or ESPN, the assumption is that the Canadiens are invincible and the Ducks and Blue Jackets are toast. You dig a little deeper into the individual teams and you find that each club has it own sources of consternation and optimism.
Over the weekend, the New York Rangers cut the roster to 25 players. In doing so, a lot of questions were answered about the makeup of the opening day roster. Brady Skjei will spend some time in Hartford. Brian Gibbons, despite his solid preseason, will also open the season in Hartford. The only apparent guarantee is that Jayson Megna gets cut, which means there are very few question marks remaining.
Two of the above three will make the team, but if Alain Vigneault has his way, all three will make the team. McIlrath has been a pleasant surprise this preseason, as it was do or die for the former first round pick. He has certainly out-performed Klein, whose contract may become a hindrance rather than a luxury. But the Rangers can fit all three under the salary cap, assuming other roster moves are made first.
Much was made yesterday of Alain Vigneault’s decision to dress defenseman Kevin Klein back-to-back nights this week given the developing competition for the final spots on the blueline in training camp.
On the one hand, Klein only dressed Monday because Dan Boyle was a last minute scratch, so perhaps some are reading into it too much. However, there were many other players Vigneault could switched with Klein last night, but he still chose to play the 30-year-old veteran again.
Despite Klein’s struggles late last season, it was still widely assumed that the final spot on the bottom pairing was all his entering training camp, but there are a few other things to consider. Read More→
Seven days folks. Just seven more days until the first preseason game against the New Jersey Devils. Until then, some of the New York Rangers prospects and invites have been participating in a week long tournament in Traverse City against seven other NHL teams. While it has been pretty much impossible to watch, there are some people at the games that have been able to keep fans updated on how players are doing
All aboard the Brad Morrison hype train. I have been praising this kid since about March, then I wrote about him here a few weeks before the draft, and then finally I was elated that the Rangers actually chose the guy I wanted. With the barren offensive prospects the Rangers have at their disposal this year in Traverse City, Brad Morrison was asked to be part of the go to guys on offense and hasn’t disappointed. In the first game he was constantly getting chances, but just shooting high. That all changed when he provided the first goal of the tournament by using his shifty skating to cut right into the slot and go top shelf on the Minnesota Wild goalie.
Last week, I went through the bottom half of the third annual Top 25 Under 25 for the New York Rangers. The bottom half of the list is fairly interesting, because it had some players fall off the list completely, and players like Ryan Bourque, Cristival “Boo” Nieves, and Steven Fogarty fall significantly. This has a lot to do with the recent influx of talented prospects from the 2015 draft.
Remember though, there are a good number of players under 25 years of age that are on the NHL roster, and naturally that puts them ahead of a lot of players that still qualify as prospects. So let’s round out the top-12 players in the Top 25 Under 25 for the Rangers.
12. Adam Tambellini – Forward, 2013 3rd round (LY: 16)
We’re fast approaching the dog days of the hockey summer or are we already there? Let’s have a quick scan at some of things going on around the league as well as Rangers thoughts from the week just gone.
Power rankings: I place no great stock in power rankings at the best of times but especially ones published in summer. With that said, the hockey ‘experts’ at ESPN have the Rangers ranked at 11. Really? Do recent performances count for nothing? Three conference finals in four years, no truly significant roster losses and yet they’re behind Columbus, Montreal, Calgary, Washington and Minnesota amongst others. Ok then…
In my opinion, the Bruins did a lot of things wrong this summer but Jimmy Hayes was a nice acquisition and the new deal signed by Hayes could be a bargain. If he gets the ice time and develops and has the right linemates, 2.3m per year for three years could be an absolute steal. Especially given the inflated prices of 20 goal scorers in this league…
It’s easy to get lost in the playoffs when games come thick and fast but there’s been a few other things going on in Ranger-land aside from the absorbing Tampa – Rangers series. Shocking I know. Let’s have a quick catch up.
Glen Sather was nominated for the GM of the year award this week. Deservedly so. The Rangers have played the most playoff games (73) in a four year stretch and this is the third year in that period they’ve gone to at least the Conference finals. Sather has his faults (a lot of them) but he’s done a great job in recent years, perhaps none more recently than this year that included the Presidents Trophy.
The Rangers have wanted Skjei to turn pro, and this appears to be the first step in the process.
Update: Skjei has signed his ELC. He will turn pro next year.