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Quinn's up-tempo game plan perfect for Rangers, Skjei says

Phone conversation with new coach has defenseman excited about team's direction

by Jessi Pierce / Correspondent

EDINA, Minn. -- Brady Skjei is convinced David Quinn is the right coach for the New York Rangers, and it didn't take him long to come to that conclusion.

The 24-year-old defenseman recently had a brief phone conversation with his new coach, and that's all he needed to feel good about the direction the Rangers are going.

"He'll be really good for our program right now, and for our team," Skjei said Wednesday at the Da Beauty League, a weekly 4-on-4 summer tournament featuring NHL players with ties to Minnesota. "He wants to play a fast, speed game which really fits into our young group we have there.

"He seems like an awesome guy. I'm really excited."


[RELATED: Team Reset: Rangers hire Quinn, looking to advance rebuild]


Quinn, who was 105-68-21 the past five seasons as coach of Boston University, was hired as Rangers coach May 23. He replaced Alain Vigneault, who was fired April 7 after New York missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in his five seasons. 

On Feb. 8, Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton and president Glen Sather announced New York would trade established players and focus on "young, competitive players that combine speed, skill and character," as part of a rebuild. 

Before the 2018 NHL Trade Deadline, forwards Rick Nash, J.T. Miller, Michael Grabner, and defenseman Ryan McDonagh, the Rangers captain, were traded. New York finished 34-39-9, 20 points behind the New Jersey Devils for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference. 

With a new coach and six players 25 or younger on the projected roster, the Rangers will be young but dangerous, Skjei said. 

"I think a lot of teams might look at us and think we're a little inexperienced," said Skjei, who had 25 points (four goals, 21 assists) in 82 games last season. "And I think that will help us in our favor. 

"I don't want to use a rebuild term, but we definitely have some new players coming in, and guys will be stepping up in different situations, so it'll be a good year for us."

With McDonagh gone, Skjei will likely be on the top defense pair with Kevin Shattenkirk. 

"I think I'll play a few more minutes this year," said Skjei, who was third on the Rangers at 21:02 per game last season. "I'll try to bring the best I can bring to the table. 

"All the younger guys have a chance to step up. We have a lot of guys that can really prove themselves this year, and I'm excited for that."

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