The New York Rangers have concluded the 2023-24 preseason, and are now continuing to finalize their roster for opening night. With just six days until the regular season begins, the Rangers must make decisions on who will remain in New York and who will be assigned to Hartford.
Earlier today, the Blueshirts announced that prospect Brennan Othmann had been sent down to the AHL, where he will start the season with the Wolf Pack. Othmann excelled in preseason and training camp, making a strong case for an NHL roster spot. However, the Rangers opted to still send him down; a decision that may be met with criticism.
This is Othmann’s first year going pro
Whether Othmann started with the Rangers or the Wolf Pack, the 2023-24 season would still be his first year playing professional hockey. He’s played in the OHL since 2019, while also representing Team Canada at the World Juniors multiple times.
The jump from the OHL to the NHL is a massive transition, and it is probably best that Othmann spends some time with Hartford before starting with the Rangers. Although he’s succeeded in every level of hockey he’s played in, the Blueshirts must make sure he’s ready for the NHL before calling him up.
“The 20-year-old was selected 16th overall in 2021. He split the 2022-23 season between OHL Flint and Peterborough, scoring 29 goals while adding 38 assists in 56 contests. He excelled in the playoffs with eight goals and 25 points in 23 games.”via CBS Sports
If Othmann receives a premature start with the Rangers, it could ruin his development. His confidence will be shattered, and it will become more difficult for him to succeed in the future. For the sake of experience in professional hockey alone, it seems the Blueshirts made the smart decision by sending him down.
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Waiting on a stronger Rangers’ roster spot will benefit Othmann in the future
Had Othmann started the 2023-24 season with the Rangers, there would not have been much room to fit him in. The left wing is almost completely filled, with stars like Chris Kreider and Artemi Panarin solidifying the top six. The only open positions were on the right side, but Alexis Lafreniere, Kaapo Kakko, and Blake Wheeler were all competing for it at the same time.
Othmann would likely find himself in a bottom-six position if he made the Rangers this season. He’d be hopeful for the third line at best, but would likely have to fall to the fourth. Othmann is a talented young player whose abilities would be wasted in the bottom six. The Rangers have seen how this could be detrimental to a player, as Lafreniere and Kakko received similar treatment.
Waiting another season or two is the best decision for Othmann. The roster will look different, and there should be an open spot in the top six for him. With extra development in the AHL and a future top-six role, the Rangers seemingly have made the right choice.