A look into Brady Skjei’s stint as a healthy scratch

Over the weekend, coach David Quinn shocked a lot of people when Brady Skjei was given the night off as a healthy scratch. He doubled down on that scratching on Monday, as Skjei was a healthy scratch for the second straight night. There were questions abound –and rightfully so– but DQ has yet to give a detailed explanation. He’s not required to, of course, but it would be nice, right?

Skjei is not having a good start to the season. That we know. Then again, outside of Fredrik Claesson and Kevin Shattenkirk, no Rangers defenseman is truly having a good start to the season. Every single one of them has a glaring flaw to their game/production that is difficult to ignore. Shatty, Claesson, Adam McQuaid, Tony DeAngelo, and Neal Pionk have all seen time as a healthy scratch. In fact, the only defenseman to not be a healthy scratch is Marc Staal. But I digress.

When it comes to Skjei, he was having a relatively poor past few games. His xGF% from his prior six games (admittedly an arbitrary number), working backwards from his last game were 23.12 (NYI), 47.98 (VAN), 23.25 (CBJ), 49.08 (DET), 42.51 (MTL), and 23.64 (BUF). So, let’s just go with Skjei was pretty bad for the most part, with some sprinkling of decent. That stretch is what likely led to his scratching.

It is worth noting that when discussing lineup decisions, recent performance must be accounted for. Over that stretch, which again is what likely led to his scratching, Skjei wasn’t good. Skjei, over the course of 82 games, is one of the best defensemen the Rangers have. But over those six games, he was not.

By comparison, Staal’s xGF% in those games were 56.22, 48.56, 62.58, 56.63, 74.18, 69.78. So the cries to have Staal sit are a bit biased. It’s based on the last name, not on the production over that period of time.

Let is be known: Over those six games leading up to Skjei’s scratching, Staal was miles ahead of Skjei.

Scratching Skjei doesn’t mean he isn’t a part of the future. He is certainly more a part of the future than Staal. He was playing poorly. Staal has been playing somewhat well, so he hasn’t been the scratch. That’s not to say there weren’t times when he deserved to be the scratch, but at this particular moment in time, he did not. Skjei did.

Skjei will be back in the lineup, and it may be tonight. This is a blip, nothing more.

Data from

Show More
  • Unlike the previous coach I wouldn’t look at scratches as punishment. It seems that when players are scratched, especially the younger ones, the time off is used to coach them up. The results have been pretty good – ie ADA, Pionk. Watching the game from upstairs can be beneficial. I suspect that is the plan for Skjei too who has developed some bad habits and struggled a bit.

    And thanks for pointing out that Staal’s play has been decent. While the game has passed him by a bit and his contract is an albatross the reality is his play has been OK so far, Notwithstanding the constant drumbeat that he is awful he has been one of our better dmen and was so last year as well. Still he should sit from time to time like everyone else. And he might even garner some trade interest if the Rangers took back some money – which likely would save cap space in the future vs. a buyout which will likely have to come at some point.

    • Size, speed and skill set; and still only 24. Skjei still needs to put it all together. If he does he will be more than worth his contract.

      • Size and skating yes, puck skills and shot average at best. could also be more physical for a guy his size.

        • His overall skating is a bit overrated. I have seen more teenage figure skaters that can cut back and forth and manage to have better lateral movement. If a player has a jump on him than he’s nothing like McD. He either has a slim chance of reacting quickly enough for a reach around poke check or else he’s taking the penalty 6/10 times. Meanwhile McD go to move was a stick lift from behind or he usually had enough speed to either cut a player off or make the accurate poke check.

          Skjei is somewhat physical, his lateral movement prevents him to containing strong or shifty player’s. All we can do is hope for is his game in the OZ. Sometimes he can bury a feed from the high slot or make a 1/100 pass to a open man.

        • It was a bet as you said. Most teams have decided that these type deals are preferable to bridge deals. If he develops as projected (hoped??) he will he will be a $7 million+ dman (Shatty gets 6.6 mil and that was considered a discount) on a bargain contract. If it turns out that the 2016-17 season was a tease it will be a bad contract. Only time will tell.

    • “That’s been talked about a little bit. They’ve been telling me don’t even worry about the money side of it. Just play your game. You got what you deserve,” Skjei told The Post after Tuesday’s practice in Westchester. “They’ve said, ‘We feel like you’re worth every penny.’ So it’s not that thing. And it’s not like I’m thinking about that when I’m on the ice.”

      ^ Woof, I’ve never seen a player openly talk about his cash flow like that. Staal wouldn’t give a rats a** about speculation of how much he made and is worth. That whole article about Skjei is a giant cringe. He took advantage of a explosive offense in 2016-17 than had some mediocre playoff series vs MTL with some physicality and was never heard from again. The fact that he pointed out how he has to go back to form from the 2017-18 season is pretty outlandish to me. He either now sinks or swims, trade speculation will only get stronger from here on out.

      If we’re settling on a top 4 player than I rather have Darnell Nurse than Skjei.

      • In the quote Brady was relating that the coaching staff spoke to him about that saying not to worry about the contract and worrying about being worth what he is being paid. It wasn’t Brady saying he had been thinking about it or worrying about his “cash flow”. Quinn also said that Brady acknowledged that he needs to play better You seem to have miscontrued the article.

  • I don’t agree that a detailed explanation would be nice. Explaining why a particular player was benched is, more or less, criticizing that player publicly. Sometimes ambiguity is the better path.

    And in some ways it is more fun for us to speculate than to know. There are so many reasons to bench someone. Maybe you just want to give someone else a chance to play. Maybe you want to send a message that a player isn’t trying hard enough – or is getting sloppy. Sometimes you might just want a good player to know that his team can win without him, that he does not have to do it all and can play within himself.

  • I agree with Dave regarding the benchings. They seem to have been largely beneficial for the players. When Quinn first did it to DeAngelo I was on this blog saying it was the wrong move. I was wrong.

    I would cite ADA as the best example of the purpose of the benchings. Quinn didn’t like some aspects of Tony’s play and sat him out a while. But, it seems that the time off was used for intensive coaching. Since he has been back in the lineup, Tony has been much improved and is more than pulling his weight. After his string of good performances, Quinn remarked that ADA is ‘very coachable”. So, it appears that was Quinn’s intent. To a lesser extent Pionk saw some pine time and some improvements afterwards. Smith seemed a little better too when he came back. I expect that we will see Brady paying attention to things that he needed to improve when he gets back in the lineup too.

  • very outside the box, and I admit I am asking this because I do not know,

    could he being stretched have to do with a deal in the mix? for say a Nylander?

    giving the youth we have up and coming up, just asking, no one bite my head off please…


    • Pas

      Could be, but he wouldn’t get that deal without much more than Skjei. The cost to acquire Nylander would be too high, and the cost to sign him would be outrageous. So to answer your question, probably not!!!!!!

    • There was a recent article that speculated it would take Skjei and Kreider. Can’t see how that would be worth it. Especially if we might be able to sign Panarin on July 1, as rumored, and not have to give up anything.

  • So far, I really like Quinn’s use of D men (other than never resting Stahl). He’s benched Shatty, D, Pionk, Skjei, and Smith. Players know that if they don’t perform, they will sit, and that they will get another chance to show improvement. That’s been the pattern. Benching one guy sends a message to everyone, and re-inserting a benched player does too.

  • The only red flag here is the potential for this to be a trend with Brady, not a blip.

    I’m a Brady supporter but even I am getting nervous with this new contract.

    • I’ve had a bad feeling about that one, but trying to stay positive. Top D money until he’s 30 seems premature. We all love some of what we’ve seen from skjei, but contract feels over the top at this stage of his development. Best case scenario seems to be he will have to grow into his paycheck. I wouldn’t bet anyone here will be looking back and calling it a bargain in a few years.

      • I guess that doesn’t sound so positive, but I swear I’m trying. Mainly by not posting about it all the time 🙂

      • Actually it’s not really top D money, it’s 2nd pair money. As it’s $5.5M per or thereabouts. Which will actually make this contract palatable in a year or 2, with rising contracts.

        Top pair D men are really getting $7M+ these days.

        • Should have read top 4 D, I didn’t notice to change it. That’s rather high still for top 4, no? There are about 40 defenseman in the NHL making more than skjei. And some very good names on recent deals making less.

  • Back to top button