Chris Drury and the New York Rangers continue to make moves. On the heels of acquiring and signing Stanley Cup champion Barclay Goodrow, the Rangers president and general manager (GM) added some much-needed sandpaper to their lineup. They also signed restricted free agent (RFA) Filip Chytil, which happened a week after they drafted Pickering, Ontario-native Brennan Othmann with the 16th-overall pick and more.
Reaves to Provide Grittiness and Presence
Ryan Reaves will be an important piece for the Rangers moving forward. He’ll be asked to play his power game while being a presence to keep things honest on the ice when players like Tom Wilson get carried away. Reaves, the 6-foot-2, 225-pound forward from Winnipeg, Manitoba is the son of former Winnipeg Bombers running back Willard Reaves. The elder Reaves led the Canadian Football League (CFL) in rushing three times in five seasons. He also set the CFL record for most yards from scrimmage. Reaves attributes his style of play to his father’s bruising running style. “He was a physical guy,” Ryan Reaves said. “I don’t think he knew that I was going to turn into an enforcer kind of guy in hockey, but he definitely did make me into that.” (from “Raising more than just their game”, 6/21/20, Las Vegas Review-Journal).
Although Reaves’ focus won’t be just on Wilson, he’ll certainly be paying attention to him on opening night, Oct. 13, in Washington against the Capitals. That’s the first of three meetings between the teams. The second time they play is Feb. 22, in Madison Square Garden (MSG). In between those games, Reaves will be called on to shake things up and create space for the Rangers’ uber-talented roster. Reaves’ presence will also come into play if and when the Blueshirts make the playoffs.
Chytil Back for 2 More Years
Chytil, a 21-year-old RFA, signed a two-year contract right around the same time Reaves was signed. The 6-foot-2, 208-pound center scored 22 points last season, all of them at even strength. He ranked sixth in the NHL among centers in 5-on-5 scoring for players who played at least 20 games.
When Chytil registers a point, the Rangers are 28-7-5. He reached career highs in assists, points and plus/minus last season. The former first-round, 21st-overall draft pick (2017) from the Czech Republic adds steady depth to a deep center-ice position.
Othmann 16th-Overall Pick
The Rangers chose Othmann 16th overall in the recent 2021 NHL Entry Draft. He played in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) with the Flint Firebirds in 2019-20, where he recorded 17 goals and 16 assists in 55 games. The 6-foot, 175-pound forward went over to the Swiss League to play for EHC Olten when the 2020-21 OHL season was canceled because of COVID-19 restrictions. That may have been what helped him become a mid-first-round selection. He had 15 points in 34 games, which is solid for a young player in a pretty good pro league.
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Othmann had this to say of his experience in Switzerland, “I got bigger, I got stronger, I got a little more confident with my style of play and being able to be physical.” He also said, “I learned a lot from the older guys there and the different coaches we had on the team. I think it’s just going to benefit me as a person and a player. I can’t wait to show that at the next level. I know it’s going to take hard work to get there and to play a top-six role, but what I learned in Switzerland is really going to help with that and make the transition a lot easier.”
Othmann prides himself on being able to play a versatile game. A power forward who can make plays and put the puck in the net while being a physical presence and getting under the opponent’s skin. Drury had this to say after drafting Othmann, “He understands how to play a two-hundred-foot game, and we’re excited to bring him into the mix. Our scouts kind of described him as a Swiss Army knife kind of player. He can play both wings, can play up and down the lineup.”
Buchnevich Dealt for Blais
Most would say that dealing Pavel Buchnevich to the St. Louis Blues was a cap-saving move, and it was. However, Sammy Blais can help on the bottom six with his physical play. Plus, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound left wing only commands $1.5 million per year and has one year left on his deal. That’s a $1.75 million per year savings. Also, moving Buchnevich frees up more ice time for Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko.
In Other News
It’s been a busy couple of months for Drury since he took over as president and GM. Since the expansion draft freeze was lifted, he’s been extremely busy. Aside from the draft, signings and trades mentioned above, Drury and the Rangers also signed forwards Ty Ronning, Tim Gettinger and goaltender Adam Huska. Additionally, the Rangers signed forwards Greg McKegg and Dryden Hunt. It’s safe to say Drury might need a bit of a break before training camp starts in about a month.
Scott Blair is an author and journalist from Los Angeles, CA, by way of Detroit, MI. Uniquely diverse experiences have shaped Scott’s life in both of those places he calls home. He is now traveling the world, learning and growing as a human and a writer. He was a professional hockey player and then turned to the arts, becoming an actor for about 15 years. His passions turned to poetry, prose, politics, and journalism when he got tired of the Hollywood machine and what it represents. Scott is available for interviews and welcomes questions and topic ideas.