O’Brien, 18, was the USHS All-USA Hockey Player of the Year after averaging more than two points per game with Thayer Academy. He’s a 5-foot-11, 176-pound center that had 80 points (43G, 37A) in 30 games for Thayer Academy this past season and will play at Providence College next season.
The Hingham, Mass. native put up huge numbers on the high school circuit, but that also makes him a tough prospect to evaluate given the gap in competition versus say the OHL, WHL or the QMJHL. O’Brien was certainly on the scouts’ radar, but getting a look at him next year at Providence College will give a better view of just what his development path will look like. Though we didn’t have O’Brien as part of our BSH Community Draft board, TSN’s Bob McKenzie did have him ranked as his No. 34 overall prospect in the draft.
Given that the Flyers took Joel Farabee with the No. 14 pick a little earlier, there is clearly something special that GM Ron Hextall saw in O’Brien to go ahead and make this the pick. One thing going in O’Brien’s favor is that there have been some bonafide stars to come out of Thayer Academy. Former NHLers Tony Amonte, Jeremy Roenick, and current NHLer Brooks Orpik are all alums of the school.
Aside from terrorizing the high school hockey ranks, O’Brien spent a little time with the United States National Development Team Program with the Flyers’ other first-round selection in Joel Farabee.
Jay on what it means to him to be a Flyer: