Athlete Spotlight: Interview with Brady Skjei

Skating Into His Second Season with the Rangers

Jared Silber/MSG Photos

23-year-old Brady Skjei came to New York for his rookie season with the Rangers last year and is already making a name for himself in the city and within the league. “I think I came off a pretty solid rookie season, so I just want to keep making strides and keep learning from the older guys in the program.” The Minnesota-born defensemen played in 80 regular season games in 2016-2017, picking up five goals and 34 assists. So yes, we agree. That’s a pretty solid rookie season.

Learning from the older guys in the program is something he got a lot of in the off-season while training back home with the team’s captain and veteran defensive player, Ryan McDonagh. Having worked on further improving his speed, power, and agility, Skjei is coming back for his second season with the Blueshirts and has already been vocal about having his eye on the prize. “Obviously, the main goal for the team is to win, to move further than we did last year and ultimately lift that trophy at the end of the season.” As he prepped to enter his sophomore year with the team, New York City Monthly got a chance to catch up with Brady and talk everything from his favorite memories on the ice at The Garden so far to game-day rituals.

Growing up watching hockey, who do you remember being most impressed by and which qualities as a player or person made him stand out to you?

I’d say Nicklas Lidstrom [Detroit Red Wings]. People call him the perfect human. He was unbelievable defensively and brought offense to the table, too. That’s the one guy I always wanted to play like and he’s a good role model for a young defenseman.

Coming from Minnesota, what were your impressions of New York and the Rangers?

The first month is pretty overwhelming, just the city itself. But once you figure out where you’re going and what you’re doing, there is no better place to play in the world than here.

So far in your career, is there a teammate that’s been like a mentor to you and what are some of the greatest lessons he’s left you with?

Kevin Hayes took me under his wing for sure. My first call-up to the Rangers, he really helped me. He was a young guy that had jumped into the league right away also, so Hayesie for sure. And then I think Ryan McDonagh has done a lot for me personally. We have a great relationship and work out in the summers together. We play the same position so learning from him every day at practice has been huge for me and it’s been great.

The energy at MSG, especially during playoff hockey, is unlike anywhere else. What’s one of your best memories from that time last season?

I think winning against Montreal at home in Game 6 was really fun. Obviously playing in the playoffs itself is a great accomplishment. Every rink is buzzing, but the Garden is a special place to play. We all get really pumped up playing in front of the fans and playing in the most historic rink. It’s a great place to play and playoff hockey is that much better there.

Jared Silber/MSG Photos

Coming into this year, what are some goals you’ve set for yourself?

I think just keep improving every day. I think I came off a pretty solid rookie season, so I just want to keep making strides and keep learning from the older guys in the program. I want to learn from the coaches and keep improving on a day-to-day basis. Obviously, the main goal for the team is to win, to move further than we did last year and ultimately lift that trophy at the end of the season.

Do you have any game-day rituals you’re willing to share with us?

I’m not really too superstitious at all. I take a 20-25 minute nap whenever I can. Me and Ves [Jimmy Vesey] will go and get an iced coffee before the game. That’s about it.

Fill in the blank: My favorite thing to eat in New York City is…

The fried chicken at ABC Kitchen.

If you could pick one emoji or a Snapchat filter to represent your excitement for this season, what would it be?