2023 NY Rangers prospect rankings - Brennan Othmann AHL

Last week, we went through Part 1 and Part 2 of my 2023 New York Rangers prospect rankings, and today we go into Part 3. Based on the comments, most were able to predict the top-three prospects. So let’s dive into why it’s these three that made the cut, and also go into the specific tiers that I graded the Rangers prospect rankings.

For the final time, I am no expert on these players and enjoy reading the details you all add or differing opinions. I hope you have enjoyed this series, and have a great summer!

3. Adam Sykora, LW/RW, Hartford Wolfpack (AHL)

I was a big fan of the Sykora pick last offseason, seeing it as a smart upside gamble on an undersized player who produced in a professional league despite being a late birthday. This past season marked Sykora’s third season playing professional hockey in Slovakia; he turns 19 in September. He has scored .40 PPG over his 99 professional games. 

Sykora’s steady year-over-year production growth continued this past season, posting 21 points in 38 games for HK Nitra, good for third on the team in scoring. With just one point in five WJC games, he didn’t light the world on fire during his time with Slovakia’s U20 team. That being said, I thought his tenacity was fully on display throughout the tournament and he probably deserved a couple more points as the tournament progressed. 

It clearly jump started Sykora’s season back home, as he returned to post 16 points in the 26 games after the tournament. Following Nitra’s playoff elimination, Sykora joined up with the Hartford Wolf Pack and played in four games of their Cinderella playoff run, contributing a point in those games. 

The book on Sykora is well known at this point, he is a fast, skilled winger who is a tenacious forechecker and has been relied upon in all situations thus far in his career. The puck skills are average and I don’t think they lend themselves to a player with a top-six projection, so in Sykora, Rangers fans should be hoping he develops into a relatively productive third-line forward who can play on the penalty kill. 

Development Path/Timeline: Sykora is a really interesting case because of his age profile and the country that he is from. Slovakia has had a bit of a hockey renaissance over the past two or three years, as it is the homeland of high picks such as Slafkovsky, Nemec, Dvorsky, Honzek, and of course, Sykora. The league is probably middle of the pack in terms of strength in Europe; above leagues like the EIHL and the ICE HL, but below the DEL/SHL/Liiga/NLA. 

Right now, it sounds like Sykora is going to come over to the US and try his hand in the AHL. I personally think that it is too soon for him to make that transition. I’d like to see him cut it in one of Europe’s stronger leagues before making the jump to the US, as there is no rush given his age and the build of the Rangers team.

If he struggles in the AHL, which is not out of the realm of possibility for a 19-year-old, it will be interesting to see what the Rangers do. Medicine Hat in the WHL took him first overall in last year’s import draft. I think Sykora is three years away from playing in the NHL.

2. Brennan Othmann, LW/RW, Hartford Wolfpack (AHL) 

Othmann has had an interesting path as a prospect, and last season was no exception. Othmann made his name playing on Shane Wright’s wing with the OHL Cup-winning Don Mills Flyers. He was a high pick in the OHL draft by the Flint Firebirds, one of the most unstable organizations in the CHL. 

Othmann had an OK rookie season in the OHL before playing professionally in the Swiss second division during the canceled Covid season (20/21). His production did not jump off the page, posting 16 points in 34 games. That led to NHLe models rating his likelihood to make the NHL pretty low. I am sure we all remember this tweet (most of us ignore this guy, but it’s fun to laugh at). 

But Othmann took off the following year, scoring 50 goals on a very weak Firebirds team, and carrying them to a deep playoff run. Due to the NHL-CHL agreement, Othmann was forced to return to the OHL for the 22/23 season despite clearly outgrowing the league. His 67 points in 56 games this past season don’t jump off the page, but it looks like a lot of it was down to poor shooting luck, as his shot generation was superb.

Othmann also clearly established himself as a big game player. He was arguably Canada’s standout performer during the gold medal game against Czechia, posting two assists, and he has shown repeatedly that he is a pest that you want playing for your team. 

I don’t see Othmann as a player who will drive a line at the NHL level. The skating is about average, and I think the puck skills are nothing special. But he is a tenacious player who will use his body to win battles whenever he can, and he does have an exceptional tool when it comes to his shot. I see Othmann as a complementary top-six winger who will score 50-60 points at his peak and will be a fan favorite who does the dirty work for his team. 

Development Path/Timeline: Othmann is a perfect example of why I prefer the NCAA path for prospects, and it seems that more top Canadian players are starting to take note (see Power, Fantilli, Hage, Celebrini). Ideally, he would have been in the AHL last season learning how to play the pro game. I think his 22/23 season has cooled fan expectations for him next season, which is a good thing in my opinion. 

Looking at the Rangers lineup, it is hard to see a spot for Othmann unless he blows everyone away in camp. A year down in Hartford won’t hurt him at all, and Knoblauch has already done a good job with a similar style winger in Will Cuylle. If all goes well, Othmann could be a late-season addition to the Rangers’ top-nine, but it’s more likely he makes the team in 24/25.

1. Gabe Perreault, LW/RW, Boston College (NCAA) 

I will have a deep dive piece on Perreault out later this summer, so keep an eye out for that. Perreault was the Rangers first-round pick in 2023 and was widely regarded as one of the steals of the round. Perreault shattered Auston Matthew’s NTDP scoring record on a line with Will Smith and Ryan Leonard, posting 132 points in 63 games. 

For those who do not know, the NTDP schedule consists of games against USHL, International, and (mostly) Division 1 NCAA opponents. Perreault’s 1.96 PPG in the USHL was second in the league behind Smith, and he posted 42 points (21G/21A) in 22 games against NCAA opponents. That included multipoint performances against perennial powerhouses such as Michigan, North Dakota, and Notre Dame. That is an incredible stat line for a 17-year-old against NCAA opponents. 

Perreault gives the Rangers a prospect with legitimate top-line upside. Players with his statistical profile and draft pedigree are some of the surest bets there are to produce in the NHL. Perreault’s puck skills and hockey IQ are both extremely high-end and place him in the upper echelon of drafted prospects. Among those who have watched him extensively, it is nearly unanimous that his skating has progressed to around average, and many expect his speed to improve if he continues to add lean muscle. 

Development Path/Timeline: Perreault is heading to Boston College for his Freshman season with the Eagles. He will be joined by linemates Will Smith and Ryan Leonard; many expect the trio to at least start the season on the same line. I love Boston College as a development path for Perreault. He will be surrounded by tons of NTDP alumni, including Rangers’ 3rd Rounder Drew Fortescue. 

What I love about the NCAA as a development path compared to the CHL is the quality of opponents and the schedule. Perreault will be playing against very strong, older opponents every Thursday-Saturday, but will also have enough time to be on a consistent lifting schedule. I just prefer that for prospects compared to beating up on younger players with an overloaded game schedule. I would expect him to be one of the highest-scoring Freshmen in the country, but Perreault will certainly need two years at BC.

2023 Rangers Prospect Ranking Tiers

I thought it would provide some additional context to these rankings if I grouped the players into tiers. The players within each tier are relatively interchangeable. I struggled with the Robertson cut-off and the inclusion of Fortescue in that next tier. The smaller groupings until Garand are pretty much set for me though. Thank you for reading, and keep an eye out for my deep-dive piece on Perreault this August.


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