The Philadelphia Flyers elect not to sign Jay O’Brien, the former first-round pick from the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.
O’Brien was the nineteenth overall selection by Ron Hextall out of Thayer Academy. Notably, three picks later, the New York Rangers drafted K’Andre Miller. Hextall selected Joel Farabee five spots before O’Brien.
He played 25 games for Providence College, totaling five points (2G, 3A) before competing in the IIHF World Juniors Championship tournament with USA Hockey. O’Brien did not record a point in the IIHF World Juniors.
Before the 2019-2020 season, O’Brien went into the NCAA Transfer Portal. He suffered some setbacks, including injuries, while at Providence. Entering the NCAA Transfer Pool allowed O’Brien to play a season in the BCHL for the Penticton Vees, where he tallied 66 points (25G, 41A) in a season. Then, O’Brien agreed to return to the NCAA at the University of Boston.
In his latest season at the University of Boston, O’Brien played with other Flyers prospects, such as Devin Kaplan. O’Brien, a senior, was the alternate captain at the University of Boston this season. He helped lead the University of Boston into the Frozen Four, where they lost, 6-2, to the University of Minnesota.
The decision not to sign O’Brien is intelligent. The Flyers will receive a second-round pick in the 2024 NHL Entry Draft.
Moving On (+)
Before deciding to leave O’Brien unsigned, the Philadelphia Flyers didn’t have a second-round pick in either of the two upcoming drafts.
The 2024 NHL Entry Draft becomes a little heavier in the earlier rounds, which helps the rebuild. The Flyers will have two first-round picks at their disposal, and adding a second-round selection replenishes a missing slot lost after trading for Tony DeAngelo.
Chuck Fletcher never signed O’Brien to an entry-level contract; neither will Daniel Briere. O’Brien doesn’t have a tie to the current regime. It isn’t to say that O’Brien didn’t improve because he has. The timing doesn’t match. He’ll make a case to play for another NHL franchise, but his destination isn’t Philadelphia.
Hextall, in drafting O’Brien, hoped his scoring ability and smooth puck handling would translate at the NHL level. He was a vital contributor at the University of Boston, but Kaplan surpassed his scoring ability. Kaplan was a third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.
Kaplan, a freshman, notched 23 points (10G, 13A) in his first season at the University of Boston. O’Brien, a senior, played in one fewer game than Kaplan, contributing 32 points (8G, 24A).
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)