Brady Skjei...Future American Hero
It's August, and until Shane Doan makes up his mind on whether or not he wants to go down with the SS Phoenix Coyotes or not, there is not much going on in terms of news in the Hockey world in terms of NHL player movement.
There is, however, a certain training camp going on up in Lake Placid, New York that Rangers fans should turn their attention to.
Team USA is holding its Evaluation Camp for the 2012 World Junior Championship and the Rangers have a few players in camp that are looking to make an impact for the Red, White and Blue. Namely J.T. Miller, Brady Skjei and Steven Fogarty.
Team USA is putting together a strong group to compete in the WJC in Ufa this year...after the jump a more detailed look at the Rangers representatives for Team USA.
Let's start with the forwards shall we? (All quoted text from Chris Peters' blog United States of Hockey)
Steven Fogarty: The Rangers 3rd Round pick in 2011 has been a nice find for the Rangers thus far and looks to bring his scoring touch to (82pts in the BCHL) Team USA.
Fogarty is one of the players I’m most excited to see in camp after his 33-goal, 82-point season for Penticton in the BCHL last year. He has a big body at 6-2, 194. By most accounts, his development took a big step forward after moving on from Minnesota high school where his size allowed him to dominate. Fogarty can play well at both ends of the ice and if his two-way game from the BCHL translates to the jump in competition at the Junior camp, he could find himself in the conversation in December.
Fogarty has had his praises sung from various scouts and analysts for his offensive play as well as his solid play in both ends of the ice. I can see Fogarty really making an impact if he makes Team USA, but it wouldn't be the end of the world if he doesn't.
J.T. Miller: Being the only hold over player from last year's WJC team, Miller is going into camp not to fight for a spot but to keep his spot secure and prove that he can be one of the leaders of Team USA. Miller's strong physical and two way game compliment his offensive game ( a PPG player with the Plymouth Whalers in the WHL last year).
The only forward in camp that played in the 2012 World Junior Championship, Miller comes in with high expectations. Miller was inconsistent, as were most Team USA forwards at the WJC last year. Still, a year older and a year wiser, Miller should be able to step into a key role for this U.S. squad. He put up just better than a point-per-game last year in Plymouth. Miller will have to show the way in camp and should be counted on to be both productive and physical. Returnees are almost never kept home from the tournament and I would not expect Miller to be an exception. His WJC experience and skill-set are needed if the U.S. has plans on competing for a medal in Ufa.
The big thing for Miller is to see whether he can crack the top 6 of Team USA's forward corps with players like Alex Galchenyuk, John Gaudreau and Stefan Noesen all competing for top spots and if Miller can to the top 6 can he be productive up there...I believe he can it's just a matter of positioning whether he plays as a center or a winger
On the Back end:
Brady Skjei: The newest Rangers 1st round pick is quite possibly the best skating defenseman in Team USA's camp and while his offense and defensive games are not stellar or elite yet, Skjei can play a solid defensive game in his own end and knows how to make a good transition pass to start the offense
There’s not a better skater among the defensemen in camp and that’s going to be a key tool for this team if Phil Housley wants an up-tempo attack. Skjei does his best work in the defensive zone and can shut down top forwards. His offense is at a decent enough level to be effective at the WJC level, particularly his ability to trigger the defense-to-offense transition. I think they’ll have a tough time keeping Skjei off the final roster no matter what. He has good size, plays smart and will be a weapon on international ice potentially.
Skjei could be in the bottom pairing of a Team USA blue line featuring players such as Jacob Trouba who most likely has a spot locked up joining J.T. Miller as one of the only two returning players, Seth Jones who most say is the best defensive prospect for the 2013 NHL Draft and is right behind Nathan McKinnon as the future #1 pick, and Jordan Schmaltz, a high end offensive defenseman that will be a force to be reckoned with. Needless to say Team USA's defense will be stacked and I expect Skjei to not only make the team, but also be a major reason why the US picks up a medal.
So, there you have it. The Rangers have three players vying for Team USA's World Junior team and two of them could be major players for Team America...what are your thoughts guys?