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Skjei to Make NHL Debut Tuesday Night

by Matthew Calamia / New York Rangers

With Kevin Klein recovering from a strained oblique and Dan Girardi day-to-day with a swollen knee, the Rangers on Tuesday recalled defenseman Brady Skjei for tonight's tilt with the Edmonton Oilers at The Garden.

The 2012 first-round pick has two goals and 11 points in 27 games with Hartford (AHL). He's tied for fourth with the Wolf Pack in assists and ranks sixth on the team in points.

Head coach Alain Vigneault said Ken Gernander and the rest of the Wolf Pack coaching staff have been very impressed with Skjei thus far in his first full season as a professional.

"[Gernander has] been very impressed with his overall skating ability, the fact that he competes real hard," Vigneault said of Skjei. "They see him as a good defensive-type defenseman that has that ability, because of his skating, to be able to jump up into the attack when the opportunity is there.

"He's a young player going through the process," Vigneault added. "He's playing real well and he's going to get his first opportunity tonight."

The 21-year-old joined the Wolf Pack last season after finishing his junior year at the University of Minnesota. He was pointless in eight regular season games but added a goal and three points in 15 playoff games.

Vigneault said the plan is move captain Ryan McDonagh to the right side and slide Marc Staal up to play on McDonagh's left. He said he's ecxspecting an "interchanging" of the other four defenders based on how the team is playing.

While McDonagh doesn't have a whole lot of experience on the right side with the Rangers, but did play on the right side with Ryan Suter at the 2014 Olympics with Team USA.

"Hopefully it goes well. It's going to have to if I go over [to the right]," McDonagh said after the Rangers' morning skate. "I got a taste of it at the Olympics there, a couple shifts here and there with the Rangers. Most importantly, just being comfortable with whoever you play with as a d-man."

Skjei spent three years at the University of Minnesota, where he registered eight goals and 19 assists for 27 points, along with a plus-33 rating in 109 games. While at school, he helped lead the Gophers to a Big Ten Regular Season Championship and a Big Ten Tournament Championship in 2015.

"He's really good; he's really skilled," said veteran Raphael Diaz, who skated alongside Skjei this season in Hartford. "He's a big guy and he can play really well. He's patient with the puck, he plays a lot of PK [and] he knows what he's doing out there."

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Winger Jarret Stoll was claimed off waivers by the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.

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