The Minnesota Golden Gophers recruit is an enticing draft prospect since he is a good skating defenceman who moves exceedingly well at 6-foot-2¾ and an even 200 pounds. Skjei used those wheels well last season with the U.S. under-18 team in Ann Arbor, Mich., where he stabilized his game across the second half of the season while partnering with Seth Jones, who's on the shortlist to go No. 1 in next summer's draft. One puzzle piece Skjei still has to find is using his size effectively.
While he became a defenceman early on after a minor hockey coach told him good skaters play on the back end, he was typically "medium sized" until a growth spurt kicked in. He's hoping that being an 18-year-old next season in the NCAA against players four and five years older will help instill that in him.
"I want to be more physical, for sure," says Skjei (pronounced shea), a potential first-round choice on Friday who was 19th among North American skaters in the final NHL Central Scouting ranking. "I feel like each level I move up to, college and then the NHL, you need to be more physical. I'm a big enough guy, I'm not afraid to throw my weight around."
Skjei, who grew up in the Minneapolis suburb of Lakeville, Minn., has deep family ties to the Golden Gophers. His grandfather, Stan Skjei, was a halfback and defensive back for the Minnesota football team in the 1960s and went on coach grid and basketball teams in the Twin Cities area. Brady Skjei was a multi-sport athlete, playing quarterback before foregoing slants and seam routes for skates and a stick.
"I think I'm a smooth-skating two-way defenceman who can play both sides of the rink and also power play and penalty kill," he says. "I'm looking forward to next year, I think we're going to have a really good team."Read More »from NHL draft tracker: Brady Skjei, U.S. under-18 team