As the Rangers preseason continues, one player though has captivated the fanbase this week and throughout camp. Brennan Othmann, who scored 97 points and 50 goals last season in the OHL, has shown all camp he can hang with the big boys. He set up K’Andre Miller for arguably one of the best Rangers goals scored this preseason. He isn’t afraid to get involved physically either. While cuts are going to come soon one thing is certain: Brennan Othmann deserves a real look with this team and if he proves he can hang, he could be an interesting piece in New York this year.
For those that don’t know or don’t keep up with prospects as much, Othmann projects to be a top-six forward during his career. His shot is like a missile being shot across the ice and he has no problem cracking you into the boards when he doesn’t have the puck on his stick. If you do a quick Youtube search, prepare to have your jaw dropped when you see the goals this kid scored this year. That shot he has is like a flash of lightning.
Now I want to preface this by saying a lot of people believe Othmann is going to be an auto-cut this week when the big cuts start coming. I’m still on the fence and for good reason. What does Othmann have to prove in the OHL anymore? He demolished his competition last year and he looked like a man among boys. Othmann deserves a real look based on this alone.
At camp it’s been more of the same for Othmann, as all reports say he hasn’t looked out of place at all. What sense would it really make for Othmann to go back to the OHL at this point in his career? What else does he have to improve down there? This is a player who would benefit from spending time in New York this season and playing a role on a team who is going to be on a mission to get even further than last.
Othmann is not eligible to be sent to the AHL either, complicating matters. That would be the absolute perfect spot for him but due to the disappointing AHL transfer agreement, Othmann can only make the NHL or be returned to the OHL. The AHL is not an option, again cementing an argument that Othmann deserves a real look with the Rangers.
Othmann on his entry level contract (ELC) would be helpful for a team looking to save every penny they can. I’d prefer to see someone with Othmann’s ceiling get the opportunity to play on this squad over someone like Jimmy Vesey. There are always paths to managing the salary cap implications down the road.
Where does he fit on the Rangers this year? The top six is full and he won’t get first crack with Alexis Lafreniere, Kaapo Kakko and Vitali Kravtsov all pushing for top six opportunities. I would personally love to see him on a third line with Filip Chytil and one of Kakko, Lafreniere or Kravtsov, to still have a variation of the kid line that can score and with the addition of Othmann, have a little bit more snarl to it.
Even if you don’t fully agree that he should be on the team all year, the nine-game trial should be a given (if he hits 10 games, the Rangers burn a year of his ELC). There would be no harm in the Rangers telling Othmann to show them what he’s got for nine games and if he proves he can hang, so why not keep him around? It would allow another young player to start their ascent in the Rangers lineup.
When he was originally picked, the Othmann pick was extremely controversial. Fans were clamoring for a center prospect in a system that has been devoid of top flight centers for a while. He quickly converted everyone as he showed in juniors he can be a scorer who isn’t afraid to mix it up. Othmann says he wants to be like Brad Marchand, and if he comes close to a player like that, he’s going to have a long career in the Big Apple. There is no reason why it can’t start this October if he proves he’s ready.
Othmann deserves a real look with the Rangers, and hopefully he will get every chance possible to impress management in these preseason games this week. My hope is that management isn’t simply keeping him around for training camp experience and is truly willing to give him a shot.