Can Carolina Hurricanes Defender Brady Skjei Outshine the Rangers?
Brady Skjei will be facing off with his former New York Rangers team only seven games into his tenure with the Carolina Hurricanes.
In an unexpected pick right before the draft deadline, the Carolina Hurricanes traded a first-round pick to the New York Rangers to acquire 25-year-old defenceman Brady Skjei. When the Canes blue line is healthy, its among the best in the league, and I think this was a smart move to not only cover for the injured Dougie Hamilton but add depth to the line.
Skjei will soon face off against his former team in the qualifying round of the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs after seven games with the Carolina Hurricanes. Skjei spent five years with the Rangers and was named to the All-Rookie team for the 2016-2017 season after a 39 point season.
Like Sami Vatanen, Brady Skjei is a workhorse on the ice. He averaged 20 minutes on the ice for the entirety of the 2019 season so far. He also maintains a strong offensive presence, as he has averaged 27.4 points a year thus far in his career, with a total of 24 points thus far this year.
While he has only played seven games with the Canes so far, Skjei was strong on the ice and picked up one assist. Defensively, Skjei’s Corsi For % was 53.8, meaning the Canes kept the puck in the offensive zone more often than not with Skjei on the ice.
Skjei’s on ice average combined with his scoring ability and strong defensive attributes lead me to believe that Skjei will be a strong asset to the Hurricanes in the upcoming playoff series against the Rangers. There is no doubt that this will be one of the prominent storylines of the series.
In Sara Civian’s article for the Athletic (paywall) about the Canes’ trade moves this year, she receives thoughts from insider Shayna Goldman who also broke the news that the Canes were still making moves to acquire Skjei before the end of the trade deadline.
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Goldman’s thoughts consist of a portrait of Skjei as a strong player who has never received a full opportunity to reach his potential due to a struggling Rangers team combined with line pairings that did not benefit the young defenseman.
So far it looks like Skjei fits in well in the Canes’ system, and may very well shake off his prior struggles. Skjei’s GF % (percentage of goals scored while Skjei is on the ice) was above 50% in three of the seven games he played, with an excellent 74.87 % against the Pittsburg Penguins.
Skjei has been paired with Haydn Fleury, a player who has really shined in the last half of the season. I’m not sure if this pairing will be the same during the playoffs, but I think if it does it will be beneficial to both players who have had recent strong showings.
I do agree with Omar Abdelgawad that Skjei throws another wrench in possible prospect plans for the Canes who have such a deep prospect pool. That’s why I believe Skjei’s playoff performance will prove to management which direction the Canes move in the future.
Brady Skjei isn’t just a great addition to the Canes’ suit game; I believe he will be another piece of the incredible defensive picture that the Canes have been building over the past few years. I don’t think anyone is ready to say whether or not Skjei will be a top defenseman for the Canes, nor should they.
Skjei has an opportunity to answer this question against the Rangers in the qualifying round of the playoffs. There will be no better story than Skjei outperforming his former team, and I look forward to seeing him rise to this challenge.