The New York Rangers used their first round in this year’s NHL Entry Draft in quite an eyebrow-raising way — by selecting a left winger. There are two main reasons why the pick is a little confusing at first glance. For one, the Rangers already jammed up their pipeline on the wings. Second, the Rangers desperately lack depth at center.
Regardless, 6-foot Brennan Othmann owns a distinguished list of intangible qualities that any team would appreciate. Selected with their 16th overall pick, the Rangers clearly targeted physicality and size in this Entry Draft. Othmann most certainly fits the bill.
Why New York’s Othmann Stood Out
The Blueshirts were on the market for a dynamic player, similar to the type that they lost when the Seattle Kraken selected forward Colin Blackwell in the Expansion Draft. There is no guarantee Othmann will ever see the big leagues (or with the Rangers at least) but you could expect something similar.
The 18-year-old already developed a defensive aspect to his game. The young forward is known for blocking shots and minimizes opportunities for his opponents, but he also brings offense.
With the Flint Firebirds of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), Othmann collected 16 helpers and 17 goals for a total of 33 points in 55 games last season. Other than teammate Yevgeni Oksentyuk, (who plays on the left and right wing), Othmann was the team’s most productive left winger. He was also tied seventh for most points on the team at the conclusion of the OHL regular season.
The winger also spent loan time in the Swiss League with the EHC Olten team during the 2020-21 season. His 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in 34 games made him the highest-scoring left wing there as well.
It is no surprise he is able to find the back of the net since his shot is widely complimented. The forward’s excellent shot is distinct and quite precise. The numbers also show Othmann is able to produce no matter which league he is in.
Referred to as “an agitator”, Othmann could bring the presence that makes a team hard to play against. This is an identity the club chased — and is still looking to have for quite some time now. The organization took the time to break down the roster and cultivate young players, now it is time for the front office to be picky about what roles need to be filled.
“A nasty, in-your-face competitor with a plus-plus shot, Othmann may not have the measurements to be called a ‘power forward’, but don’t tell that to the growing list of victims who he’s plastered to the ice,” detailed scouting expert, Steve Kournianos.
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Othmann can bring the grit and size that the roster is lacking. The Tom Wilson run in at the conclusion of the 2020-21 regular season reinforced that, which left a sour taste in the mouth. Though the team is young, they will be able to keep up their individual roles if they start early enough, which means the team should be able to keep up the edgy identity they long for, granted they keep these players to build around.
Indeed, this past season emphasized the club’s need for tenacity, especially since the team just concluded their five seasons with defenseman Brendan Smith, who never shied away from a chance to get physical. Especially with Smith staying in the division, the Rangers will need to rearrange to fill those types of roles.
The Direction of the Young New York Rangers
Despite several sizable centers available at the time of the Rangers’ first-round selection, Othmann fits the profile the Rangers are looking for. At 175 pounds at the moment, there is time for the left shot to add more weight and size if the Rangers do summon him. His inclination to be a hard-nosed player certainly poises him to join the team.
As covered by my colleague, Brian Abate, the Rangers used their other draft picks to select forwards, which means Othmann will need to work to stand out. He cannot rely on his size alone to earn him a chance so as long as he continues to produce and agitate intelligently, he could turn into a homegrown facet of the team.
With the recent addition of Ryan Reaves and Jarred Tinordi, the message is clear the Rangers want grit now but they are also planning for the future. They have a real solid opportunity to develop Othmann to follow in their footsteps.