Projecting Brady Skjei’s next contract

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.

Usually it’s relatively easy to find market value for Rangers hitting restricted free agency, especially forwards. The Rangers follow a model for the forwards. Entry level deal, then bridge deal to prove yourself, then your big contract. Almost all of the home grown Ranger forwards have followed that model.

For defensemen, though, it’s different. Glen Sather had a habit of locking up his core defensemen to long term deals after their entry level deal. Ryan McDonagh and Marc Staal followed this model. Dan Girardi did not, but he only played one full season under his ELC.

For Skjei, I think it’s safe to assume that he follows the McDonagh and Staal model, getting locked up long term on a deal that may seem expensive now, but will hopefully be a bargain at the end of the deal. Before you jump down my throat, remember that Staal’s bad contract was his third, not his second.

First things first, let’s consult Matt Cane. I feel a little embarrassed that I haven’t used his work as a reference point in my contract predictions before, but I’m fixing it. Matt is pretty good with this stuff and is amazingly accurate.

Assuming Skjei gets that long-term deal, potentially up to five or six years, then Matt has him at around $5 million a season (about 6.25% of the cap ceiling if it gets to $80 million). Again high for what you get now, but hopefully turns into a bargain in years 3-5, right as the next round of forwards are coming off their entry level deals. It’s an endless cycle. For the sake of discussion, a four year deal came in at $4.75 million.

With that in mind, let’s try to find some comparable deals to Skjei to see if Matt’s work has legs (full disclosure: I’m expecting it to, and this is kind of being written in real time). The first two contracts that jumped out at me were Colton Parayko and Morgan Reilly.

Both contracts were in the 6-7 per cent of the cap ceiling range we were looking for. Both were signed in their early-20s. And both deals were 5-6 years at around $5 million (Parayko got $5.5 million). Both were signed after 30 point seasons. Skjei didn’t hit that mark this year, but did last year. Parayko is on the high end of this spectrum, in my opinion.

One last contract to look at is Dmitry Orlov, who just inked his five year deal at $5.1 million per year. It was Orlov’s fourth contract, but he never really broke through until two seasons ago when he put up 30 points in back to back seasons.

So we have a trio of comparable contracts at the range Cane had his model. I think it’s safe to assume that if Skjei gets a 5-6 year deal, we are looking at around $5 million. There’s a chance he gets less because of the step back this year. There’s also the fact that he’s not arbitration eligible. I’d be happy with five years at $5 million, though.

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  • I’m not very good at predicting these type of things, but due to his current season, and his regression, I’d go with a bridge deal. Let Brady prove himself, by signing him to a two-three year deal @ $2 mil. This would be fair, and would motivate him. By giving him that kind of deal, he would be easy to trade if his play doesn’t improve, and the cap would be reasonable!!

  • The Rangers have won 34-of-79 games. Lundqvist, whose 40-save, 2-1 victory in Carolina on Saturday marked the 11th game this year in which he has faced at least 40 shots after seeing that many 48 times over the first 12 seasons of his career, has won 26-of-59 starts.

    While discussing resigning of one of our defensmen, the above came from Brooksy’s article this morning in the NY Post. People were hard on Skjei yesterday, but the numbers don’t lie, it was an entire collapse. Could it be that the man on top has no idea what he’s doing? We can’t afford another season, under the current head coach, and his third d coach in three years. What are we to think, maybe it’s the system, or the Pro-cess??? We all can’t be this blind, AV has got to be shown the door ASAP!!!!!!!

    • Agreed, Walt. With Skjei you’ve gotta think a lot of his struggles are due to the defensive “system”…his skating and size are useful for this defense going forward, and a more defined role under a new coach/system could be just what Skjei needs to reorient his game. Allowing him to skate out of the zone with the puck will result in better puck possession. He’s worth the risks of a 4-5 year deal I think—bridge deals have haunted the Rangers in the past (Stepan, Dubinsky)—and maybe Gorton can negotiate from a position of strength given the good year-mediocre year career Skjei has had so far.

      • MC

        You could be right, but I’d like to have him prove to me that his rookie year was no fluke!!! The only way to do that would be to have him sign a short term deal, and keep him hungry…………

        • I hear you on wanting him to prove himself and on some levels I tend to agree. I’d give Skeji a little more slack though here. He had a good play-offs last year, but if you remember he had a good play off the year before too vs. Pittsburgh. Granted it was only a round but he was still pretty good. Considering his age we have data points, but not a lot but not a lot on him. This year is a tough data point for the entire team. Not excusing, but no one has really had a good season. Skeji seems to have a different partner every night, which makes it harder to be consistent. Again not an excuse, but consistency in pairings helps. The bridge deal is a valid point, but it does always seem when we do the bridge deal the player accelerates and it costs us more down the line. I think with Skeji and his total track record I’d be willing to take a flyer here on sign him to a longer term deal.

    • Last 3 D coach’s Sameulson – Beuk – and Ruff – Fair to say all 3 were good DMen when they played .Did all 3 become stupid overnight or were they trying to teach a system that they were told to teach and not vary from .
      My thought on all 3 were that they were tough to play against all the time , Leetch was what he was because Beuk was his partner now say Staal was his partner do you believe he would have been as great as he was . If you are told to play one way and one way only and it is not working , you have to change it or you keep getting the same results all the time .I have a lot of respect for AV for what he has done in the NHL but the players he has to coach on the Rangers are not the players to be playing his system

      • We agree, that’s the main reason I got on AV some three years ago, after the finals where Girardi was exposed, as was the rest of the defense when Boyle arrived. He is as stubborn as a mule,and for that he deserves nothing but the front door kept open until he walks out of it!!!!!!!!

  • it is time for a new coach to get this team in a new direction somebody like a Dan Bylsma who took Pittsburgh to a cup and also it is time for the team to resign Brady he is our best defensemen take care of him

    • Dan rode Therriens’s coat tails to a Stanley Cup. What has he done since? (Ask Cindy or Eichel)
      Don’t ever mention that name again…

    • I would be a hard pass on Bylsma. He won a cup, but his track record after that is nothing short of horrible.

        • no the Penn’s had Mike Johnston after Blysma but before Mike Sullivan. Johnston was great for The Rangers…because he was pretty bad for the Penn’s..Sullivan was run out of NY…not sure that was such a great idea…but it’s done

  • 5 years x $5mm; front load it, everything but paragraph 1 salary in signing/reporting bonuses and no NMC.

    If he’s as bad as some of you people think he is, he’ll be easy to move in a couple of seasons in his prime and can still blame his lack of development on AV.

    • I like the years and $$ you’re proposing. Somebody’s gonna have to take their lumps on the first pair next year, might as well be Skjei.

    • When I mentioned paragraph 1 salary, I meant that the para 1 should be league minimum and the rest in signing/reporting bonuses. If he domiciles in a no income tax state, he’ll shelter a ton of $ compared to NY.

  • The one good thing I like about Sather is he keeps control of these athletes as long as he can with bridge deals which helps the team. Too many GM”S are giving out these long term contracts like candy. A player needs to prove he can make it in the big leagues for more than a year or two before he gets big bucks. Maybe it’s because I’m older but I just don’t understand why these days an athlete has a good year and everyone knights him the next one. Show me you can do it for 3-4 years consistently and you can have the big bucks!

    • Bridge deals usually don’t help teams, though. They’ve backfired on the Rangers before, and are a short-sighted way to do business. Many times these types of contracts are pennywise and pound foolish. All it takes is another 40+ point season from Skjei and the Rangers would be looking at $5.5-$6 million annual salary for him. Additionally, if he’s not under contract for more than one or two seasons it’ll hurt any potential trade value Skjei has down the road. And given the type of year Skjei has had this year (with regression all across the board from him), Gorton should be able to knock off some dollars from the overall price of the contract.

    • The idea isn’t to give them the big bucks, the ideas are as follows:

      1: Have them cost controlled until they age out of their prime.

      2: Pay them as a depreciciating asset so when you need to move said asset, you get extra value in return; ie my dollar will cost you 35¢ cash, so give me more to make up for that. Not many teams can afford this, the Rangers can and should take advantage of it. The player won’t mind as the up front payments makes the future value of money work for them.

      Bridge deals mean you pay current value and if he has a killer season going into arbitration you’re stuck giving him a quick route into UFA or you over pay well past where the aging curve bites hard.

  • It is interesting that you assess a defenseman entirely on offensive stats – maybe interesting isn’t the right word.

    Skjei is not Staal or McDonagh. From what I saw this year, Skjei is probably not even the 2018 Staal. A $2M bridge deal is fine, or a trade as part of the rebuild, but $5M for five years is an unwise gamble.

    • So you do a 1 year bridge deal, which gives him arbitration rights on the next deal. If he suddenly becomes better once the monkey named AV is off his back(like everybody else has), then he goes to arbitration and cleans up and goes UFA at 28 even while the Rangers pay way more over the life of those contracts. On top of that, it makes it harder to move him beyond a rental his UFA-1 season, minimizing trade value.

      IOTW, the exact opposite of my scenario above and Slats stock in trade.

      • There is no such thing as safe here. You have to project what he is going to turn into and act accordingly. If you get it right, you get rewarded. If you get it wrong, you get burned. The good general managers get it right a lot and get burned infrequently (but not never). The bad GMs get burned a lot.

        I am projecting Skjei as a mediocre second pair guy or a good third pair guy. I don’t see that as meriting big bucks. If I’m right and you give Skjei $5M a year, you can’t trade him. Of course, if you are right, the Rangers do get burned as you note.

        I won’t dispute that you have a better eye for defensemen than I do and will be the correct one more often than not, but I just think he has stabilized too low.

        Also, when AV left Vancouver, the team went downhill, not up. Who exactly has gotten better by leaving AV?

        • And the point you keep missing is that if you front load the contract and make it driven by signing bonuses his AAV may be one number but his cash number is drastically less, making it easier for him to be dealt to a team that needs to make the cap floor but is cash poor.

          The only risk is upfront cash, which the Rangers have in spades.

          • Front loading has additional risks. It makes a buyout unreasonable as you only save what you don’t pay, so if the player tanks, you have a problem. Also, the number of teams trying to make the cap floor is quite small and the big contract makes him untradeable to many teams.

            There is no defense against getting it wrong – either way.

          • The only player under 28 who has been bought out was Jimmy Hayes.

            A post 28 contract has different parameters.

          • Any squad with cash problems(teams who get money from revenue sharing) are candidates:


    • “From what I saw this year, Skjei is probably not even the 2018 Staal.”

      Now, now. Let’s not be hyperbolic. IMO, there is nothing that Skjei is notably worse at than Staal (although Staal is a bit more physical even if not really a prolific hitter), and there are several things Skjei is notably better at than Staal. They’re also apples and oranges in style to begin with. Staal’s reputation is a “lockdown” defender…but who can’t actually lock much of anyone down – at least not in this system. Skjei’s reputation has always been two-way without a majorly-defining emphasis in either direction, and that’s exactly what he is becoming.

      As for the statistical evaluation, the days of evaluating defenders solely on their “chin” or “sandpaper” are over. I know you disagree, but individual plus/minus is hot garbage since each individual players’ merits weigh into it less than the other four skaters and goalie on the ice with him collectively do. Indeed, points are more of an evaluation factor for defensemen than they ever have been before, and they will continue to be as more teams look for a fleet of two-way defenders who can actually skate.

      Also, I personally suspect Staal also looked more serviceable this season than he has in at least a couple largely (if not entirely) due to the fact that he was on the ice for the lowest amount of minutes per game in his career – a trend I would personally like to see continued. There was noticeably more spring in his step this season, far as I could tell – and if he is to remain on the roster, that needs to continue. He certainly will still not be confused with a plus-mobility defender, but he did look a half-step better to me this year.

      • I’m not being being hyperbolic. Staal is +12 and Skjei is -23. That is pretty dramatic. Yes, it is true that individual +/- is influenced by the other five guys on the ice, but so is almost every stat in existence. Possession stats depend just as much on the other players as +/- does. Possession stats are more accurate in that they have less sample size error, but are plagued by the fact that they measure only a small part of the game.

        A defenseman contributes offensively and defensively. The offensive contribution is much easier to quantify than the defensive contribution. Since you (and most people here) want to make informed statements, you give the most weight to the strengths that can be quantified. “I can prove Skjei is better than Staal offensively and therefore he is a better defenseman.”

        It may be true that more and more teams are moving in this direction. If so, that enhances Skjei’s trade value, not his value.

        Finally, everyone here knew that buying out Girardi and signing Shattenkirk would improve the Ranger defense. Guess what?

  • I’m not at all saying Cane’s model is bad…but anyone look at the probability of contract length section? Some interesting results there. He has Skjei most likely to get a one year contract, which makes little to no sense to me in the Rangers’ current situation. He also has McLeod most likely to get a two year contract at $1M per, which if becomes reality, may or may not result in me driving to Jeff Gorton’s house and slashing his tires late at night.

  • I can’t blame the system for his regression.(too many people want to blame AV for everything) What system did he play under last year? I don’t care about how many points he scored either. He seems to be out of position all the time, maybe you can blame the musical chairs with the partners but yes has me worried. I’d gamble on the bridge deal at 2 mil per for 2. If he turns out to be top pair talent I’ll pay for it in a couple of years.

  • I do not buy into the tough year talk being a reason for Skjei’s pretty solid step backwards. Others have had career years on this team.
    He played last year with this same coach and system.
    I for one did not like what I saw this year from him.

    Can we please get men that clear the crease like a man protecting his house already!!!!!

  • Did anyone else look at Matt Cane’s spreadsheet? He’s got Mark Stone down for making over 9 mil per over 8 years?

    • Saw that. I’ve seen a lot of fans straight-up fanboy-fawning over Stone right now…if Dorion is in the same boat, he may get that.

      • Not from the Sens he won’t. Eugene will have the guy traded for a player half as good so long as his actual dollars owed are below his caphit.

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