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Brennan Othmann: The Physical, Agitating, Scoring Machine the Rangers Need

Could this young winger be the Rangers’ hero?

Boston Bruins v New York Rangers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

It’s Thursday, December 1st and the Peterborough Petes are facing off against the Flint Firebirds. It’s late in the second period and the Petes are down 6-3. They have control of the puck in the offensive zone and are looking for an opening. They get the puck down low toward the net when our protagonist Brennan Othmann crashes the net scoring an emotional goal, cutting his former team’s lead down to two goals.

In the clip of the play, you see Othmann celebrate emphatically. For this, he was given a ten-minute misconduct. You can be the judge for yourself on whether the call is deserved or not, but the context of the situation is this was his first game against his former team, and Othmann who has a reputation as a chippy and physical player had the officials on high alert. Regardless of questionable officiating, it’s this type of play and persona that makes Othmann so special. Not only does he have a boatload of offensive talent but his game comes with an edge. He plays physically and gets under his opponents’ skin. Makes one think of Brad Marchand or Matthew Tkachuk (whom he has mentioned as a role model for his style of play multiple times). Brennan Othmann has the pizazz that the New York Rangers so desperately need right now.

Leading up to the draft Othmann’s reputation as a prospect, while still considered a definite first-round pick, didn’t quite have the hype he’s since gained. A lot of that came from his historic post-draft season playing for the Flint Firebirds and scoring goals by the dozen, but if we look a bit more closely, he’s always had an agitator personality.

In the above video, he reads the play and takes a massive hit to send Shane Wright into the offensive zone mostly alone for a dangerous chance that turns into a goal. Othmann then gets up to join the celebration, but not before cheekily taunting the Swedish player who didn’t play the puck. His willingness to sacrifice his body is one thing, but the confident attitude and gall he displays in showboating after the play is an entirely separate factor that few players have. I understand some may look at this and label it as unsportsmanlike, and you know what? They wouldn’t be entirely wrong, but Othmann’s willingness to toe the line and engage in subtle psychological warfare may lead to him having a very successful NHL career.

No matter the team, no matter the stage in his career, Othmann has found a way to shine and impact the game. In the recent World Junior Championship that took place in August of this year, the young winger found various ways to get under his opponent’s skin. Below he’s seen in the middle of a duel with Czechia to be the last player on the ice.

In the WJC he went on to have a very physical tournament throwing some highlight reel hits, while also drawing multiple penalties by inciting his opponent to react to the physicality he brought every night. Additionally, the second to last hit in the clip shows him creating a turnover leading to a goal. Once again showing his willingness to put his body on the line to get his team ahead.

A lot of these body checks we see Othmann throw went viral solely from the absolute destruction he caused. His style of play disrupted his opponents, often throwing them off their game or making them retaliate. The below interview is evidence of that. The context is after Canada eliminated Czechia, Michael Gut confronted Othmann in the handshake line, causing a small scuffle that required the intervention of the officials to separate the two players. Othmann’s line in response to the situation displays that not only does he walk the walk, but he talks the talk as well.

We’ve spent a lot of time focusing on the physicality and agitation Othmann plays with, but the record should also show that he consistently brings a competitive level that few other players his age can match. He has a constantly running motor that propels him to make great plays with and without the puck. He is a fun player to watch with an elite-level shot, adept passing ability, and the courage to try creative things.

Last but not least, let us return to the initial scene where Othmann scored for the Peterborough Petes, taunted his former team, and received a misconduct. In a postgame interview with Mike Davies from The Peterborough Examiner Othmann went on record to say in his celebration he didn’t say anything more than “yea!” The well-spoken prospect expanded further on his celebration “Of course it was against my old team and it was passionate emotion but if it was any other team—it doesn’t matter what team was in here whether it was Kitchener, London, or the Toronto Maple Leafs we were playing tonight, I would have done the same thing.” This is right from the source, that Othmann brings the heat every night, no matter the opponent.

During the same interview when asked about his team’s loss, Othmann showed his maturity level, taking ownership and hitting the whole checklist of items every coach wants to hear their players say. “We need to come together as a team. We need more passion as a team. We need to love each other and stick up for each other and play as one and not individuals.”

The only issue Othmann has had since being drafted is his age, which prevents him from playing in the AHL this year and most assuredly contributed to the decision to send him back to the OHL. The Rangers need to do themselves a favor and find a way to clone this young prospect. Times may be tough right now with the Rangers’ inconsistent play and underwhelming performance, but the horizon continues to look bright and I believe much like another literary hero, we can expect to see Othmann “coming on the first light of the fifth day.”

At dawn, we look to the east.