Brady Skjei, the University of Minnesota defenseman whom the Rangers selected in the first round of the 2012 NHL Draft, is one step closer to landing a spot on the the team which will represent the United States at the 2014 World Junior Championships in Malmo, Sweden. USA Hockey has announced that Skjei is one of 26 players to make the prelim roster, with 23 players making the final roster that will compete in the tournament.
A year ago Skjei also was on the prelim roster, but failed to make the final cut and instead watched from the outside as the United States---led by the Rangers 2011 first round pick J.T. Miller---won the gold medal at the 2013 WJC in Russia.
All players on the prelim roster will take part in a training camp at Skjei's own University of Minnesota from December 15-18, and then the group will head to Sweden for a pair of pre-tournament games before the roster is finalized on December 23. The 2014 World Junior Championships open up on December 26.
Not only will Skjei feel comfortable taking part in a training camp at his own college, but the head coach of Team USA is University of Minnesota's own Don Lucia.
Skjei, a solid two-way defenseman and one of the Rangers top prospects, has recorded two goals and two assists to go along with 16 penalty minutes through 14 games of his sophomore season so far with the Gophers. As a freshman a year ago Skjei had a goal and two assists along with 14 penalty minutes in 36 games.
The United States has medaled in three of the last four World Junior Championships. Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, and Danny Kristo all helped lead Team USA to a gold medal in 2010, while Kreider helped the United States grab a bronze medal in 2011, before Miller and the U.S. squad again won gold a year ago.