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2012 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Brady Skjei

Brady Skjei, D
Birthplace: Lakeville, Minnesota 3/24/94
Bio: 6’3, 200 lbs., L
U.S. NTDP U-18
Rankings: ISS – 26; CSS – 19 (NA)

The Skinny: The combination of excellent size and an elite skating game make American defenseman Brady Skjei an attractive option mid-to-late on Day One.

In a draft-year where the first round could be more than fifty percent defense, it’s easy for some blueliners to get lost in the shuffle. The physically imposing but ‘raw’ Brady Skjei of the U.S. NTDP Under-18 team might be a victim of the defensive overflow. Despite pro-caliber size and superlative wheels, the University of Minnesota commit seems to get lost in the vast sea that is the 2012-eligible defenseman corps.

Skjei’s performances at both the Five-Nations Under-18 tournament in Finland and the Four-Nations Under-18 tournament in Switzerland have earned him significant praise. His poise and patience (along with his physical talents) were lauded on both occasions and he was one of the best Americans in both tourneys.

Of course (as we’ve mentioned before) big, mobile blueliners don’t grow on trees. He’s reportedly 6’3 now, according to several sources – which indicate he’s grown this season (perhaps two inches) and, despite this, remains one of the best skaters at his position in 2012. Scouts rave about his multi-directional acceleration and agility.

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.

It’s hard to imagine many teams in the mid-first-round passing on a player of Brady Skjei’s physical tools and skillset even if he’s still a lesser-known (or at least appreciated) commodity. He carries tremendous value if he slips even to the mid-20s. As long as teams are satisfied with his hockey-IQ, he’ll be a solid selection in the first-round.

Ideal Fits: Teams in the mid-to-late first-round looking for a surefire NHL-blueliner: San Jose, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Florida and Boston.

Why Your Team Will Take Him: Because ‘Big ‘n Mobile’ blueliners are a very desirable commodity.

Why Your Team Will Pass on Him: Because his offensive upside is suspect; because there are others with more dynamic upside; because he needs to bring more physicality.

Strengths: Skating, Size, Puck-Moving, Defensive Game, Poise

Weaknesses/Concerns: Offensive Upside, ‘Rawness’, Creativity, Grit

Projection: Number Three Two-Way Puck-Moving Defenseman (5g, 35p potential)

Predicted 2012 NHL Draft Range: First Round 16-25

Overall Rank: 21

N.A. Rank: 16


Defenseman Rank: 11

U.S. National Rank: 3

Bob is the Boston Bruins correspondent for The Hockey Writers and a credentialed member of the Providence Bruins' Media.

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