The New York Rangers have crucial decisions to make with several assets with troubling situations.
The salary cap has forced the issue with the New York Ranger’s surprising and highly anticipated OHL champion prospect Brennan Othmann.
On draft day, with a need for centers, Chris Drury opted to garner another winger with the 2021 16th overall pick. Since draft day, Othmann has been a dominant force in major junior hockey and has competed in the World Junior Championship in 2021-2022, and 2022-2023 earning a gold medal with both Canadian squads.
As a Flint Firebird Othmann exploded in his second season in the Ontario league with 50 goals and 97 points in 66 games and 24 points in 19 postseason games. He played the 2023 season for the Peterborough Pete’s, where he won the Robertson Cup and competed in the Memorial Cup.
The New York Rangers would benefit from Othmann playing professional hockey in the American Hockey League before jumping to the NHL despite the benefit of having a league-minimum rookie in the current state of the Ranger’s economic conundrum.
For starters, it’s fair to say the New York Rangers have struggled to develop highly touted prospects. Lias Andersson and Vitali Kravstov are no longer in the organization. Lafreniere and Kakko have taken their lumps. The Garden Faithful has not been blessed with an immediate impact player immediately.
Boy, would it be nice to see Brennan Othmann zipping around the ice, rifling hard wristers, aggressively forechecking, and skating in diverse rush patterns to stymy the opposition? The truth of the matter is, the Rangers simply cannot repeat the same path they placed their former draft selections on.
Young guns like Cole Caufield and Trevor Zegras spent time in the American League before making the jump to the NHL, a move that has paid off in dividends for each respective athlete. Not every player can become impactful or learn the pace of the professional game as fast as Auston Matthew or Connor McDavid can.
Aside from the transition of his package from the junior to professional level, where does Othmann fit onto the Rangers roster? Does the Scarborough native slot onto a checking line allowing Kakko to move up into the top six?
It may result in a headache to see Othmanm adjust to the most competitive hockey league in the world at 20 years old, burning his entry-level contract in the process.
Taylor Swift would say she remembers “All Too Well.” Ranger fans could sing the ten-minute version with the tribulations they’ve bore witness to since the 2018 rebuild letter with advancing young prospects into the National League too fast.
When camp arrives in September, unless he blows away management, it would benefit Othmann to spend time in the AHL. Play big minutes, allow his skill set to blossom at the professional level through trial and error, and arrive at the show when he can make a certified impact.