First-Round: Flyers go All-American in NHL Draft

Round one brought to you by the USA

The NHL’s 2018 draft has come and gone with no major drama. And that goes for the entire league, not just the city of Philadelphia. The number one overall pick, Rasmus Dahlin, went to Buffalo as predicted. There weren’t any moves either up or down in the first-round.

The Flyers were the only team that had two first-round picks that also made the playoffs last season (thanks St. Louis). This gave Flyers fans a lot more to look forward to on Friday night in Dallas. And when it was their turn to head to the podium at pick 14, there were no surprises. Let’s take a look into the first-round new additions.

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Hextall stayed safe at pick #14

As many analysts predicted before the 2018 draft, the Flyers have been high on Joel Farabee. A two-way player who can compete anywhere on the ice, Farabee is known for having very high hockey IQ and instincts. The New York native shoots the puck extremely well and has the ability to see a play develop before it actually happens.

I’ve seen comparisons to the Ducks’ Adam Henrique, based both on his hockey ability and leadership. From watching highlights, however, I see a comparison to a diluted Jake Guentzel of the Penguins. They have similar skating ability and are both very responsible with the puck. Farabee can also put the puck in any corner of the net at will.

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Playing with a stacked USNTDP team in the USHL, the winger managed 40 points in 26 games, including 15 goals last season. The 18-year-old is committed to Boston University in the fall, a great program to help his game develop.

Farabee is considered undersized at 6’0 and 161 lbs, but nothing the gym cant help. His two older brothers check in at 6’4 and 6’3, so he might still have some growing to do. Getting his weight up will be a major priority, but going to college makes that an easy task. Look for him to be in the 185 lb range before cracking any pro roster.

High school talent found in the first-round

Just a few minutes after drafting Farabee, the Flyers were on their way back to the stage. With the 19th pick in the 2018 draft, the organization took a shot at Jay O’Brien. The right-handed center was projected to go between picks 25-35, but Hextall and his scouts saw something special.

The Massachusett’s native is 18 years old, and just graduated from Thayer Academy, a prep school south of Boston. After putting up 65 points his junior year, he outdid himself as a senior. Scoring 43 goals, notching 37 assists for a total of 80 points in just 30 games played. That comes to 2.67 points per game, which earned him the honor of being named the USHS All-USA Player of the Year.

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Less competition leads to bigger confidence

One thing to consider is that he was playing much less-talented competition than other draftees. Playing for a prep high school is not quite the same as playing at the juniors level. But his overall domination, as well as watching lots of film, gave the Flyers scouts confidence that he can straight up play hockey.

Speed is a big factor in the centers game, but his best feature is likely his ability to shoot. He has a sniper mentality and will attempt shots from just about anywhere.  O’Brien is a lot of fun to watch play, and his game has an edge to it. His game mimics that of Travis Konecny, and if he continues developing that way, the Flyers will be grateful in only a few years.

He is committed to Providence College and should be starting on their hockey team come October. Providence College and Boston University generally face off during the regular season, so fans will likely get to see Farabee and O’Brien compete against each other come October. What better way to gauge which first-round player is closer to an NHL start?

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Featured image credit:  wallyg via Flickr