What to expect from Brennan Othmann in his Rangers debut
Highly-touted New York Rangers prospect Brennan Othmann will make his NHL debut at Madison Square on Thursday, where they’ll host the Chicago Blackhawks. Earlier, during the morning skate, Othmann was on a line centered by Nick Bonino and his Hartford Wolf Pack captain, Johnny Brodzinski.
“There’s going to be a lot of excitement,” Othmann said. “I told my parents on the way home from the rink and they were ecstatic. They got on a plane and they’ll be here as well.”
New York selected the 20 year-old in the first-round of the 2021 draft, and he’s certainly lived up to expectations to date. Prior to being called up on Wednesday, Othmann had registered 23 points (9 goals, 14 assists) in 28 games, which was good enough to be tied for sixth in AHL rookie scoring.
“I chatted with him a little bit,” coach Peter Laviolette revealed. “He spoke highly of the coaching he got down there. With Tyler (Pitlick) being out week-to-week, he was the guy they recommended.”
So what can the Rangers expect to see from this dynamic young winger? A whole lot of confidence and attitude, that’s for sure.
Brennan Othmann expectations
Before joining the Rangers organization full-time this season with the Wolf Pack, Othmann had built up a nice resume. His list of accomplishments included two World Junior Championships with Canada and teammate Connor Bedard, whom he faces tonight.
In juniors, he was a point-producing machine that played a physical game. His final season in the OHL, he scored 29 goals and 38 assists for 67 points in 56 matches split between the Flint Firebirds and the Peterborough Petes. Othmann then took his game to another level in the playoffs, leading Peterborough to an OHL title with 8 goals and 17 assists for 25 points in 23 playoff games. Unfortunately, the Petes fell short of winning the Memorial Cup.
“He’s an excellent player,” Director of Player Personnel John Lilley said. “He’s feisty and plays a good two-way game.”
Playing in Hartford, Othmann was in a groove, playing top-six and first unit power play minutes. However, that will not be his role with the Rangers when he debuts on Broadway.
Expectations need to be tempered, as he won’t be seeing a lot of ice time. Unless the Rangers can jump out to an early and comfortable lead, Othmann will be relegated to bottom-six minutes. It will still be an opportunity for him to show off his hard-hitting physical style and forechecking abilities.
That being said, I expect him to use his size and speed to create room for himself and teammates. He may even be able to get off a few of those excellent shots we’ve seen in Hartford all season.
Of course, playing with a familiar linemate in Brodzinski should ease the transition. As for nerves, the kid seems to have such a high-level of confidence, if he’s feeling any, he won’t show it. At the start of this season in Hartford, Othmann got off to a slow start. However, he stuck with it and began to rattle off goals and assists at a solid pace.
“He has a lot of hockey sense,” coach Steve Smith said of Othmann. “He was squeezing his stick for a while, but his teammates have done a nice job of taking him under their wing and made him feel comfortable.”
This day feels like a long time in the making, but it is finally here. Brennan Othmann has a great opportunity to show the Rangers and head coach Peter Laviolette what he can do. Whether he sticks around for the rest of this season remains to be seen. However, he’s now on a fast track to joining the Blueshirts on a more permanent basis.
Kaapo Kakko returns to practice
Injured forward Kaapo Kakko returned to the ice at the morning skate with his teammates for the first time since suffering a gruesome lower-body injury in November.
“It was nice to see Kaapo out there,” Laviolette stated. “He looks good and he’s moving well. It’s all positive stuff.”
The 22 year-old was wearing a red non-contact jersey, but this was a great sign as he progresses towards a return to the lineup. He has 2 goals and 1 assist on the season.