Jay O’Brien to play in BCHL next season

It was rumored awhile ago, but now it’s confirmed.

Philadelphia Flyers’ prospect Jay O’Brien has committed to playing for the Penticton Vees in the BCHL for the 2019-20 season according to the team’s website. The nineteenth overall pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft was heavily rumored to be playing in the BCHL next season a few months ago when he entered the NCAA transfer portal, but it wasn’t confirmed until yesterday. O’Brien will be eligible to play in the NCAA for the 2020-21 season and still has three years of NCAA eligibility left.

The center struggled mightily in his freshman season with the Friars. Not only was O’Brien transitioning from the high school game to the NCAA but he missed a fair amount of time due to injuries this season. These factors had a pretty big role in O’Brien failing to produce much, as he scored on just two of his 42 shots on goal and totaled five points in 25 games. His 0.21 points-per-game average ranked sixteenth on the Friars and eleventh among the college’s forwards, as he opened the campaign on a seven-game point drought and concluded the campaign with one point (a secondary assist) over his last 13 games.

It’s not unheard of for a player to make this sort of transition, but it’s not exactly a move that’s encouraging. O’Brien still has plenty of time to become a serviceable NHL player in the future, but it’s really hard to label this development as anything other than disappointing. Some may say he’s a bust after this announcement but there’s no reason O’Brien can’t provide a dominant season in the BCHL and then join another NCAA program to continue his route to the show. Obviously it would have been nice to see him have a successful freshman campaign rather than this, but every prospect develops at a different rate.

Several NHLers have played for Penticton in the past including Duncan Keith, Ryan Johansen, Troy Stecher, Dante Fabbro, Tyson Jost, Kyle Cumiskey, Zac Dalpe, and Curtis McKenzie. Penticton finished first in the BCHL’s Interior Division this past season with a record of 37-16-5 before losing in the first round of the postseason.