The Rangers made another round of cuts yesterday, causing a minor stir in cutting Brennan Othmann. Many had Othmann penciled into a third line role, potentially with Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko, forming a new kid line that was a pain to play against. Instead, Othmann was reassigned to the OHL for another season, as he was ineligible to play in the AHL.
Cutting Brennan Othmann was the right move
In cutting Brennan Othmann, the Rangers actually made a smart decision. It was also very clear from the start of camp that Othmann was never a real option for Chris Drury and Gerard Gallant. Othmann did not play with anyone who was expected to make the roster in practice or in preseason games. Just from that, we knew he was not destined for the NHL.
Othmann looked solid in his first game, and we were all thrilled when he made that great shorthanded pass to K’Andre Miller for a goal. His two assists showed promise and added to the hype train. Yet there was still a missing aspect of his game. It’s not that he needs significantly more development time, it’s that he simply isn’t NHL ready yet. And that’s fine. Kids rarely make the jump this young, especially when they weren’t a top five pick.
Complicating matters in cutting Brennan Othmann was the CHL/NHL agreement. Because Othmann is still 19, he can’t go to the AHL. It was either the NHL or the OHL. The Rangers made a wise decision not to rush him, and return him to the OHL to dominate for another season.
The last pair of prospects the Rangers rushed were Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil. Chytil took a while to finally turn into what we saw in the playoffs and hopefully will see this season. We all know what happened to Andersson, and there’s another universe out there where Andersson isn’t rushed. Perhaps he still doesn’t become a true NHL viable player in that universe, but in this one, we will never know. In cutting Brennan Othmann, the Rangers showed they learned from their mistakes with both Chytil and Andersson.
Why not give him 9 games?
When the Rangers announced they were cutting Brennan Othmann, there were immediate counterpoints about playing 9 NHL games. Russ brought this up earlier this week. To avoid burning a year on his ELC, the Rangers had to avoid having him play in 10 NHL games, thus the 9 game sample. Thing is, there was clearly something they want Othmann to work on, likely around skating. Why force something that isn’t there?
Plus, and this is something not spoken about often with Othmann, there was a cap concern. Othmann’s base salary is definitely affordable, but the Rangers would have to account for the bonuses in his contract. Given the cap crunch coming for next year, the Rangers would likely have some bonus cushion carry over to next season, even if Othmann’s bonuses didn’t/wouldn’t trigger. I’m not overly fluent in how bonuses work, but this was certainly a concern.
Another concern that played into cutting Brennan Othmann: His aforementioned ELC. By sending him to the OHL, his contract slides another year, delaying his clock on a second deal and eventually arbitration. Given the flat cap and all the cap concerns coming up, this was the right move. There are a number of kids due new contracts in the next two years, and while not all will still be with the Rangers, delaying Othmann’s clock for another year gives them breathing room.
Othmann will be a Ranger soon
The one thing we learned this preseason is that the hype train on Othmann is real. He’s going to be a Ranger sooner rather than later. Cutting Brennan Othmann wasn’t a popular move, but it was a realistic move made with the future in mind. Given the number of options the Rangers have for 3LW, there was no need to rush him.
Even if none of their options for a top-nine work out the way they want, there’s always the trade deadline. A third line winger doesn’t cost much nowadays. The Rangers are going to head into the season with two primary options: A kid line with Blais as 1RW, or likely Jimmy Vesey with Chytil and Kakko on the third line to start the season. If it doesn’t work out, that’s fine. The Rangers survived with 6 viable NHL forwards for 75% of the season last year. They can survive with 11 NHL forwards until the deadline this year.