Brennan Othmann leading Hartford in Jonny Brodzinski's absence.

It has been a few weeks since our first Hartford check-in of the season. In that piece, I expressed some concern over the development path the Rangers selected for Adam Sykora. He’d had an unproductive start to the season in a middle-six role, and I found this concerning given the need for 19-year-old players to play significant minutes.

My concern had nothing to do with my belief in Sykora as a talent; my opinion of him as a prospect is well documented on this site.

Being the talented player that he is, Sykora has shown my concerns to be unwarranted for now. He has started to produce and posted the second multi-point game of his AHL career with a four-point showing against the Phantoms.

As usual, it is best to wait for the larger sample size to see how things truly stand, but this is a really encouraging development and one can only think that the upcoming World Juniors tournament will help boost his confidence even further.

Meanwhile, Brennan Othmann has continued his fantastic start to his AHL career. The physical sniper has 7 goals in his last 10 games and 11 points in his last 10 games. I don’t think Othmann getting a few games in the NHL would hurt his confidence at all, but it seems clear that Drury’s plan is to tread water while Chytil and Kakko are out while Othmann cooks in the AHL.

In the absence of captain Jonny Brodzinski, it’s been Othmann leading Hartford, and the Pack have been winning a lot of games as a result. I think the plan should still be to give Othmann a shot pre-deadline to see if he can fill the top 9 RW void, but I realize that strategy will affect the cap situation.

Mac Hollowell has continued to lead the defensive group in driving offensive play. He looked like a very smart signing by Drury in the summer and his play has likely surpassed what was expected. Hollowell was viewed as a legitimate NHL prospect post-draft and was one of the best defensemen in the CHL.

This was an upside signing and it’s not outlandish to think he could eventually have a role to play for the Rangers, especially if there are injuries. He played well in his limited showing for Toronto last season and has the skill set to play in the Rangers’ up-tempo system.

Finally, after a slower start to the season, Matthew Robertson has become a far more productive player for the Pack. He has 8 points in his last 13 games and is playing on the top pairing with Scanlin. On pure talent, he and Hollowell should be the clear recall options if the Rangers ever face a defensive injury crisis.

Rangers fans have predicted Robertson’s impact for a couple of seasons now, but he is positioning himself nicely to seriously compete for a full-time spot next fall.

Prospect Highlight – Noah Laba

Noah Laba was not among my top 10 prospects this past summer, and I really did not know a ton about him when he was drafted. He has had an excellent start to the season for Colorado College, which recently won back-to-back games against #1 North Dakota. Both wins came in overtime, and it was a beautiful goal by Noah Laba that sealed the second win.


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