The New York Rangers are set to begin this offseason’s training camp in the coming weeks. Although the organization has yet to announce an official schedule, there is already a strong narrative on which players will be trying to earn themselves a spot on the Rangers’ roster come opening night.
The Blueshirts already have an elite, NHL-caliber lineup, however, there are still a handful of prospects who can potentially shine throughout training camp and make a case for a big-league role.
3. Zac Jones can potentially fit in on the Rangers’ defense
The Rangers have a bountiful defensive pipeline down in their prospect pool, with Zac Jones leading the pack. Many Rangers fans are familiar with Jones, as he’s had the opportunity to play in 38 NHL games throughout his career so far. He’s still a very young player at just 22 years old, but he’s developed enough to make a case for a full-time Rangers roster spot.
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Throughout his short NHL career, Jones has tallied just one goal and eight points. It’s not impressive by any means, but Jones possesses a lot of potential to develop into a solid defenseman by NHL standards.
There’s currently an open spot on the Rangers’ third defensive pairing alongside Braden Schneider, and there will be a handful of defensemen eyeing down the role throughout training camp. The likeliest candidate is veteran Erik Gustafsson, but there is a strong chance that Jones can sneak his way back into the NHL with a good showing.
“Jones’ defense was the main reason why Gallant sent him down, and while things need to be taken with a grain of salt, it looks like he had a major improvement in the AHL. Either that or he was too good for the AHL and needs that next level to make more improvements. Jones drove play well, played well on the powerplay, and was fantastic on defense.”via Blue Seat Blogs
2. Brennan Othmann has been ready to make the Rangers’ roster
In the 2021 NHL draft, the Rangers used their 16th overall pick to draft Brennan Othmann. He’s yet to have the chance to play in any games on Broadway, but he certainly seems ready for the opportunity. There was a chance that Othmann could have made his debut last season throughout the 2022-23 campaign, but specific age restrictions posed too high a risk for the Rangers to call him up to the NHL level.
Othmann has excelled at every level of hockey throughout his career. Last year, Othmann was over a point per game, tallying 67 points in 56 OHL games split between the Flint Firebirds and the Peterborough Petes. Othmann’s skills are so elite that this was considered a down year for the winger, but that does not mean he’s lost his touch. The young star matured in his game and focused on winning as a team effort rather than an individual performance.
There’s a chance Othmann may get the opportunity to play for the Rangers sometime this season, but it would not be in any major role. The Rangers’ left wing is filled with elite talent, and it’s difficult to imagine him replacing someone such as Chris Kreider or Artemi Panarin. There’s no doubt Othmann will be a star soon, but for now, we may only see him as a bottom-six contributor, barring any significant trades or injuries.
1. New Rangers prospect is filled with raw talent
Although Othmann has had the chance to develop more throughout the last few years, Gabe Perrault is a new prospect that brings an immense amount of potential to the table. Drafted at 23rd overall this year, the young winger was projected to go much higher. For one reason or another, the Rangers somehow landed a star later in the first round.
At just 18 years old, Perrault has already established himself as an elite point producer. Last season, Perrault scored 132 points in 63 games in the NTDP, shattering the previous league record set by NHL superstar Auston Matthews. There is no doubt that Perrault will become a household-name player for the Rangers within the next few years.
It’s essential that they don’t rush his development, however. Too many times have the Rangers called prospects up to the NHL before they are ready to succeed. With names like Jones, Othmann, and Perrault in their system, ensuring the development of their talents is a must for the Rangers.