Flyers draft forwards Joel Farabee, Jay O'Brien with first-round picks

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Joel Farabee (center) stands on stage after being drafted by the Flyers. He is between former Flyers great Bobby Clarke (left) and general manager Ron Hextall.

DALLAS – Joel Farabee got his wish.

The Flyers selected the speedy left winger with their first pick (14th overall) in the first round Friday night in Dallas.

“I’m not going to lie. When it came to the draft, I wanted to go 14 to Philly,” he said. “I think it’s pretty cool that it actually happened. I really liked the [predraft] interviews. I talked to them a couple of times, and my dad is actually from Philly, and I grew up watching the Flyers, and I’m a really big Phillies fan. So I think it’s really cool to be part of a great city.”

The 6-foot, 162-pound Farabee, who is regarded as a strong two-way player, had 15 goals and 40 points in 26 United States Hockey League games. He has been compared to the Minnesota Wild’s Mikael Granlund, who had 21 goals and 67 points this season.

 

 

The Flyers later made a surprising selection, taking fast-rising 5-11, 185-pound center Jay O’Brien with the 19th overall pick. The high school player was rated 34th by draft guru Bob McKenzie.

O’Brien, a Massachusetts native who had 80 points in 30 games for Thayer Academy this season, is headed to Providence.

>>READ MORE: Sam Carchidi looks at the players drafted this weekend by the Flyers

General manager Ron Hextall called O’Brien a smart player who “has a little agitator in him. He’s a little undersized, but he’s going to be a thick kid, a strong kid. He has a really good motor.”

Coincidentally, both No. 1 picks said they model their games after that of Pittsburgh left winger Jake Guentzel.

Farabee, a Syracuse, N.Y., native who will attend Boston University, said he prides himself on his hockey IQ and strong two-way play. He said he was “pretty light right now and definitely have to put some weight on in college and work on playing down low.”

Hextall said Farabee was an “attention-to-detail player. He’s got speed, he’s got skill. And he’s got size in his family, so I think there’s still a chance he can grow.”

 

 

Camera icon Sam Carchidi / Staff
The Flyers’ first round picks in Friday’s draft: Joel Farabee (left) and Jay O’Brien.

As for his timetable to reach the NHL, Farabee said, “Hopefully if I put on the weight and have a good year, hopefully after one. But two years of college may be good for me. One or two years might be a good timetable.”

The 14th pick was acquired as part of the trade that sent Brayden Schenn to St. Louis last year. The Flyers also received veteran forward Jori Lehtera and the Blues’ first-round pick last year, and they took center Morgan Frost with that selection.

Frost was sensational this season, collecting 112 points and a plus-70 rating for Sault St. Marie in the Ontario Hockey League.

As for Schenn, he set carer highs in goals (28) and points (70) for the Blues last season.

“To hear my name called is definitely a relief,” said Farabee, listed as the 17th-best prospect by McKenzie. “The hard work starts Monday.”

The slender Farabee was reminded that four-time all-star Johnny Gaudreau is 157 pounds, five pounds lighter than the winger.

“I think with my style of play, I definitely have to gain weight to play at the next level,” he said. “I don’t think I have the same skill set as Johnny Gaudreau.”

>>READ MORE: Flyers take Swedish defenseman Adam Ginning in the second round

O’Brien, who was drawing lots of interest from Boston, called the Flyers “a storied franchise. I couldn’t be happier.”

The Flyers scouted his high school games “a bunch,” O’Brien said. “I had a pretty big connection with them.”

O’Brien, who is known for his hockey sense, and Farabee were teammates briefly in the USHL this season, and they exchanged a hug after they were selected.

“This is a great stepping-stone for me,” O’Brien said, “and now it’s what I make of it.”

Hextall was asked what gave him confidence in O’Brien even though he hasn’t played against strong competition.

“He just has all the traits of a hockey player — his hockey sense, his timing of passes, when to shoot and when to pass.”

The GM acknowledged that some outsiders might call it a “risky pick because he hasn’t played a high level [of competition], and quite honestly, it’s a tough evaluation. But I feel confident in our scouts; they do a great job and we felt very strongly about him.”

History lesson

Rounds 2-7 will be held Saturday, and the Flyers’ second-round pick will be the 50th overall selection.

Right winger Serron Noel, center Ryan McLeod, defensemen Bode Wilde, and Mattias Samuelsson, and right winger Akil Thomas are among the top players available.

In franchise history, the Flyers have drafted 50th three times, and the players they selected at the slot – left winger Yanick Dupre (drafted in 1991), right winger Pat Kavanagh (1997) and right winger Ted Scharf (1971) – played in a combined 43 games with Philadelphia.

Dupre died in 1997 after a battle with leukemia.

The NHL’s best player ever drafted 50th overall?

Edmonton left winger Milan Lucic, who was drafted by Boston in 2006 and has 192 career goals.

Flyers picks on Saturday

Time, TV: 11 a.m., NHL Network

Rd. No. Rd. No.
2nd 50 5th 143
3rd 6th 174
4th 112 7th 190
5th 127 7th 205

Humboldt honored

The E.J. McGuire Award of Excellence was presented to the Humboldt Broncos, who received a standing ovation and were honored in an emotional pre-draft video. Sixteen people connected with the Broncos died in a bus crash in Saskatchewan as they were traveling to a April 6 playoff game.

Before announcing the award, Gary Bettman, the NHL commissioner, was booed mercilessly.

“We have some business to take care of, and then you can boo me all night,” Bettman said.

The fans obliged.

Breakaways

The Flyers have agreed to terms with defenseman Samuel Morin on a three-year deal, Hextall said. It has a reported $700,000 annual cap hit. … Joe Valeno, a highly touted center in the QMJHL who was ranked 14th by McKenzie, fell to the Red Wings at No. 30. … Montreal left winger Max Pacioretty, 29, is expected to be dealt this weekend. He has one season left on a six-year $27 million  deal. Pacioretty has scored 30 or more goals in four of the last five seasons. … The 2019 draft will be held in Vancouver, helping the Canucks launch their 50th season in the NHL in 2019-20.