For much of this offseason, the New York Rangers have been extremely quiet.
It appears that both team general manager Jeff Gorton and president Glen Sather are sticking to their word, and are going to be patient with this now very young hockey team. The Blueshirts are doing the right thing and are showing their fans that they are going to do things the right way.
They certainly did the right thing on July 28, when they re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Brady Skjei to a six-year deal worth worth $31.5 million. Skjei (pronounced Shay), just 24 years of age, has a lot offer the Blueshirts as he continues to grow into the team’s best on the blue line.
For starters, Skjei has shown that he can produce. Last season, he had 25 points (4 goals and 21 assists) and the year before, he had 39 points (5 goals and 34 assists) as a rookie.
While those numbers do not look like much, they are definitely more than welcome with the team’s very young defensive corps. They will also look nicely alongside teammate Kevin Shattenkirk, who when healthy, has shown that he can put up a lot of points.
Skjei is also not afraid to block shots, certainly something that franchise goaltender Henrik Lundqvist appreciates. He blocked 119 shots last season and will be expected to do the same this upcoming season as the team’s young defense gain their legs and confidence.
He is also extremely reliable. As I mentioned before, he blocks shots, but he also breaks up a lot of plays in front of the net, has great outlet passes, knows when to join the rush and is a big boy on the team’s blue line.
Speaking of being reliable, Skjei showed excellent durability played all 82 games last season, the only Blueshirt to do that last season. The season before, he played in 80 of 82 games so clearly, he is a player that new head coach David Quinn can always pencil into the lineup. He’s also an absolute workhorse, averaging over 20 minutes per game last year, and will more be called upon to do the same thing this season as he leads a young Rangers defensive group.
Now, I know there will definitely be some detractors when it comes to this deal. Last season was a tough one for Skjei, as he was a – 27 and struggled in his own zone a bit. Others will also point out that his play really slipped when Ryan McDonagh got shipped off to the Tampa Bay Lightning. They’ll say that with their former best defenseman gone, how can the team expect Skjei to be one of those guys?
While those two points are certainly valid, people have to remember that he is still very young. He is going to make mistakes, but when put in the right spot and with the right partner, he will end up having a lot of success.
Skjei has yet to hit his prime and despite that, has shown in his two seasons on Broadway that he has the chance to be someone the club can lean on and count on to be a key contributor. Quinn will certainly give him every chance to do that.
This is a good deal, Blueshirt fans. In the long run, Skjei is going to be more than worth the money and will show the team, their fans, and the rest of the league that he can be one of the better players out there.