Brady Skjei - Photo by Tom Sorensen, courtesy of USA Hockey
Date of Birth: March 26th, 1994
Place of Birth: Lakeville, MN
Ht: 6'3" Wt: 200
2011-2012 Regular Season Stats:
Yet another of the deep crop of defensemen that will probably go in the first round, Brady Skjei brings size and solid skating to the table despite being a bit of a raw prospect. He slipped a spot from the midterm rankings, and finished the year as Central Scouting's 19th-ranked North American skater. He's reportedly grown as much as two inches and 15 pounds this past season, indicating a guy who may not be completely done yet. Despite that increasing size, his ability to skate is nearly unmatched; he might be the best skating defenseman in the draft.
He's a guy who can contribute on the rush, and take some chances because his skates can help him cover for those. However, his overall offensive game is still a work in progress. There have also been some questions on his willingness to get dirty.
Skjei is an imposing defenseman who continued to grow this season and has been climbing the charts as well. For a big player, Skjei is tremendously mobile and his high-end skating ability allows him to work in transition and handle incoming forechecks. He’s still got a raw skill-set and is learning how to use his size effectively, but the Minnesota commit has an enticing skill-set that projects well at the NHL level. At this point, Skjei has to be considered to be the 2012 edition of the NTDP’s Connor Murphy, and we’ll see how he plays over the coming months as he makes a final push up the charts.
His swiftness makes him a confident puck-rusher and very willing to jump into the attack. Defensively, his recovery speed allows him to take chances more slow-footed blueliners would shy away from. He’s demonstrated willingness to play a physical game though he’s not known for momentum-building hits. He has an active stick and uses it (and his solid wingspan) to shut down a large area of ice.
In addition, his breakout game has become increasingly proficient and his puck-moving capabilities might even enter territory reserved for the elite PMD’s in this draft-class. His speed allows him to handle the heavy-forechecking game and advance the puck effectively. Offensively, Skjei is still a work-in-progress and his upside appears relatively limited, but he’s shown some flashes of skill with the puck on the powerplay and his distribution game is certainly adequate.
It may be the curse of limited viewings, but it seems that scouts still haven’t peg Skjei with an ‘identity’ yet – which may increase the reticence of organizations to draft him. He’s not as offensively flashy as many of the defensemen listed ahead of him in 2012 and he’s still quite ‘raw’. Some scouts and analysts have questioned his willingness and/or ability to play a gritty game. He plays with less of an edge than many would deem ideal with a player of his physical tools.
Why he'd be a good fit in Columbus:
Skjei would be a guy that the Jackets would have to take with LA's pick (unless another first rounder in the early-20s materializes via trade), though he may not last that long. However, his size and mobility combined with his ability to move the puck up ice and even get in on rushes would make him an ideal candidate to fit in with many of the new Jackets' blue line corps. He's not a guy--right now, anyway--that will score like a Jack Johnson, but he may grow into that role as well.