Incoming freshman defenseman Brady Skjei was selected in the first round, 28th overall, by the New York Rangers in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft this evening at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.
Skjei, who is viewed as one of the best skaters in the draft, is the 18th Gopher to be chosen in the first round and the first since Nick Bjugstad was picked 19th overall by Florida in 2010.
"I am ecstatic they picked me," Skjei told the media at the draft. "This is the best city and a team I followed. It's a dream come true."
The 6'3", 200-pound Lakeville, Minn., native spent the last two seasons with the U.S. National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich. In two seasons, he combined for 28 points (5g-23a) in 92 games. He also helped the U.S. win the gold medal at the recent Under-18 World Championship and led the way defensively with a plus-10 rating.
Prior to joining the U.S. National Team Development Program, Skjei played for Lakeville North High School and helped lead his team to the state tournament in 2010.
"Brady is a tremendous skater for somebody his size," said Minnesota coach Don Lucia. "He has a great reach and has tremendous potential. With added strength he has a very high ceiling."
Skjei's coach with the U.S. National Team Development Program also spoke highly of the soon-to-be Minnesota freshman.
"His game has improved greatly, both offensively and defensively," U.S. National Team Development Program head coach Danton Cole told NHL.com. "He's a tremendous skater and a good example of a guy who understands the little nuances of playing defense. He's thrived in the program and is a physical specimen; he's big and strong and has made great strides in learning how to play the game. His angling is good and he has put himself in a really good position moving forward in his career."