Spoke with Rangers prospects J.T. Miller and Brady Skjei after Team USA practice today, and was quite impressed. More on that in a bit. Miller, wearing No. 10, was centering a line with BC’s Johnny Gaudreau and U of North Dakota’s Rocco Grimaldi, has matured quickly, seems more confident, and prepared for the challenge ahead in Europe.
In stature, skating and temperament, Skjei indeed reminds me of Ryan McDonagh, which is what people were telling reporters at practice on Tuesday. The coaches still must cut two defensemen, but I have a feeling Skjei, a freshman with U of M’s Golden Gophers who told me he knows he can improve, can stick with the U.S. squad. He was the last player to step off this ice before the team flew to Finland for more practice and a Saturday exhibition game. Looks like he really is savoring this.
One issue: Skjei (wearing 28) is a 6-foot-3 lefty, and the squad has five other southpaws on D, although two are smaller. Head Coach Phil Housley says it’ll be a tough call, and will determine the right fits after the first exhibition game. Miller’s a lock, and could be named captain.