Rangers must make the right decision regarding Brennan Othmann

NHL: Preseason-New York Islanders at New York Rangers
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Brennan Othmann came into New York Rangers training camp as one of the team’s most highly touted prospects. The 20 year-old forward is looking to impress management and the new coaching staff in his attempt to land on a spot on the big club.

Can he do it? Would it be better to develop for one season with the Hartford Wolf Pack? Those are just two of the obvious questions facing Rangers’ managment about Othmann.

The consensus option regarding the 6’0″, 188 lb Canadian is that he will start the season with Hartford and assume a top-six role where he can grow and become accustomed to playing at the professional level.

Another option could be to start him as the third-line left wing opposite veteran Blake Wheeler with either Vincent Trocheck or Filip Chytil as his center.

Either way, Othmann is embracing the opportunity to play his first pro camaign. “It’s now about being a pro hockey player. That’s what I’m most excited for whether it’s in the NHL or American League,” expressed the young forward.

Related: Brennan Othmann sees things right with Rangers

Brennan Othmann looks like he can play for the Rangers

brennan othmann
Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports

Through the first week of camp and his first game of the preseason, Othmann may just force the hand of Peter Laviolette and the rest of the Rangers staff.

Playing on the top line with Kaapo Kakko and Vincent Trocheck, Othmann came out of the gate flying. He played fast and with an edge. After a cheap hit on Kakko, Othmann returned the favor with a bone crushing hit on Islanders defensemen Sebastian Aho.

Not only did he bring a physical edge, but his speed and offensive ability was also on display. While he did not register a point, Othmann’s relentless forecheck led to a turnover that gave the Rangers their fourth goal of the game. He seemed to be everywhere in Tuesday nights 4-2 win. Every time he was on the ice he was noticeable and making an impact.

“I felt better out there than I did in the rookie games. I had a lot of fun out there. Whenever you play in this arena it’s a lot of fun,” said Othmann, who looks to eventually call Madison Square Garden his home.

It is safe to say that, while he may start the year in Hartford, he could be first in line to get called up to the big league this season.

“I think I played a good game, I was physical, created some chances,” Othmann explained on Tuesday. “I think I have to shoot the puck a little bit more. I think I have to get rid of the Junior habits, that’s what training camp is for.”

Othmann is already drawing comparisons to Boston Bruins’ pesky forward Brad Marchand. His fast, physical, edgy style of play combined with an ability to create scoring chances has Rangers fans pointing out the similarities. If he can develop into a player like Marchand, he could quickly become a fan favorite while being a headache for teams to play against.

“I’ve played that game in Junior,” Othmann addressed his physical style of play. “I’ve played that game at the World Junior stage and I don’t want to shy away from that, I think that’s my game.”

When Laviolette was asked about his performance against the Isles and to address Othmann’s own self assessment, the coach felt it was spot on.

“I thought he had spurts where offensively he was really trying to attack and that’s his game,” Laviolette noted. “Becoming a pro is a process, so I think he’s right with his statement. There’s things he’s done as a young player that may not have it down, but we can go back and work on things.”

The chance to play with experienced NHL players such as Trocheck and Kakko was a valuable learning experience for Othmann. “My linemates have played in the league for a few years now, just to build off of them, get their intake and their input on a lot of different things was definitely helpful tonight. Learning from each guy systems wise and trying to learn the concepts of {Laviolette’s} systems and how to be a pro is definitely important and I’m thankful for these guys for teaching a little bit.”

Othmann knows he has far from solidified his spot in the Rangers lineup. There is still a lot of work and development to be done before he becomes a regular in the top-nine. One thing that he brings to the table is his willingness to learn. It is clear that he is a true student of the game and is taking advantage of every opportunity to soak in this valuable experience as he looks to work his way onto the Ranger’s roster.

“You don’t know how long this is going to last, so just enjoying every moment I can, coming to the rink and try to put a smile on my face and enjoy it with a lot of good NHL players and try to learn as much as I can and be a professional.”

When Othmann gets his next crack at a preseason game, expect more of the fast, edgy, and physical play that we saw Tuesday night mixed in with explosive playmaking ability and relentless forecheck. Expect him to make a serious push and make the New York Rangers staff think twice about where he’ll end up.

At the end of the day, management needs to make the best decision possible for Brennan Othmann and his Rangers’ future. Is it spending a full year in Hartford playing top line minutes and power play? Or would he benefit playing on the third line with NHL level players?

The answer could either propel Othmann into a star quicker or delay his development an entire year.

Dane Walsh is a life-long fan of the New York Rangers. Growing up in the tri-state area, Dane has... More about Dane Walsh

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