Obviously we have no idea yet whether there will be a 2012/13 NHL season starting on time, a training camp or a pre-season. Hey, right now we have no idea whether there will be regular season play at all. Regardless, there are plenty of prospects in the organisation that offer legitimate intrigue. Whether they will be fighting for NHL jobs, making waves with the Connecticut Whale or sent back to junior/college there is still plenty to keep an eye on. A few intrigue me more than others.
With Tim Erixon traded, eternal patient Michael Sauer still hurt and Dylan McIlrath doing his best to provide Sauer with some company in the treatment room the Rangers defensive depth looks shakier – both short and long term – than it had done just six months ago; all this despite an envious top four at the NHL level. Enter Skjei.
Unfortunately for Skjei, the aforementioned issues at the defense position for the Rangers may mean more of a spotlight shining on the Wisconsin prospect than he may have hoped/expected. Thanks to a promising evaluation camp for Team USA this summer, many eyes will be on Skjei to see how he develops within the powerhouse Wisconsin programme.
Skjei is possibly the most important prospect in the entire organisation – assuming you take it for granted that Chris Kreider has ‘graduated’ to the Rangers full time. The Rangers need Skjei to develop well. Not just because he’s a first round pick but because the club need some defensive prospects to step up in the near future. His season will be interesting to follow.
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Despite it being the dog days of the summer for the pros there has still been some important hockey played by some of the Rangers most prized prospects. Steve Fogarty, Brady Skjei and JT Miller have been attending the initial US world juniors’ evaluation camp over the last week and all three have performed well. Chris Peters of the excellent United States of Hockey website (a blog dedicated to US hockey) has been following the camp and has been kind enough to give us some updates on all three Rangers representatives.
Chris has been monitoring the US evaluation camp closely and what follows is some insight on each of the Rangers prospects, how they performed to date and offered some opinion as to their NHL futures.
This is what Chris had to say about college bound Steve Fogarty:
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Whether you’re thrilled with the selections of Brady Skjei, Cristoval Nieves, Calle Andersson and Thomas Spelling or not, draft weekend 2012 has to be considered a tremendous success.
GM Glen Sather stuck to his firm declaration following the season: “we don’t trade kids.”
Sather has taken runs at acquiring Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan and Jordan Staal over the last week. Though many believe that each would look good in blue, it’s the price tag that’s scary to think about.
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It should come as no surprise that the Rangers again dipped into the ever-improving talent pool of American-born prospects to make their first-round selection. With the 28th pick in the draft, Gordie Clark announced the selection of defenseman Brady Skjei, a Minnesota native out of the U.S. National Team Development Program, from which the Blueshirts selected J.T. Miller a year ago.
Beyond his American ties, defenseman Brady Skjei possesses one trait that New York’s scouting staff covets – tremendous skating ability. Effortless skating is one thing, but it’s all the more impressive when it’s attached to a 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame. It’s basically unheard of for a player that size to have the speed and fluidity of Skjei and that gives him a pretty sizable advantage over many other prospects. However, outside of his size and skating, Skjei’s tools are raw.
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It’s official, the New York Rangers will draft at #28 on June 22. Sure, all the top talent will be gone, but there are always gems to find in the late rounds. After all Chris Kreider was drafted in the early 20s, and the Rangers organization has proven time and time again that they are great at finding players who are talented and intelligent. Don’t forget that all our draft analysis can be found on our Draft Coverage page.
Position: D Height: 6’2″ Weight: 198
The first thing that most scouts say about Maatta is that he is very well rounded. He doesn’t necessarily excel at any facet of the game, but he has no real weaknesses either. Basically, he’s just one of your well rounded defensemen who has tremendous hockey IQ and positioning skills. Generally those go hand-in-hand, but for a guy like Maatta, it’s his greatest strength. He is capable of carrying the puck up the ice and starting the rush, and is also capable of getting back and playing solid defense in his own zone.
Maatta is not the guy that’s going to throw a big hit to remove player from puck, but he does use his body enough to stymie the rush. I hate making comparisons, but his overall game is reminiscent of Dan Girardi’s game, without the 5,000 blocked shots.
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