The 86th overall ranked prospect in the CanucksArmy draft rankings is USHS centre, Jay O’Brien.
Given that he spent the majority of his season playing in American High School hockey, it can be difficult to get a read on what exactly O’Brien could be. He has been ranked as high as 31st overall in one public ranking and then out of the top 100 in others. He possesses a skill set that makes him attractive as a two-way centre but there is always that concern that his lofty point totals are due to his competition levels.
Let’s take a look at the American born, Jay O’Brien.
- Age/Birthdate: 17/ November 4, 1999
- Birthplace: Hingham, MA, USA
- Frame:6-foot-0/ 174 lbs
- Position: Centre
- Handedness: Right
- Draft Year Team: Thayer Academy(USHS-Prep)
SeasonAwards by season
- USHS First Team All-New England Team (East)
- USHS All-USA Hockey First Team
- USHS All-USA Hockey Player of the Year
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Personally, I think putting O’Brien as a possible first-round selection is lofty. There is a lot of risk with any draft-eligible USHS player and investing that much asset value into his selection may not be the best venture.
With that being said, O’Brien has a skillset that allows you to easily project him into a third line centre role that does everything. He can kill penalties, create offence, and is responsible in his own zone. The Hingham native has a great wrist shot, which he used to score 43 goals, and has noticeable acceleration and top speed. He is very agile on his skates and gets going very quickly.
I like his ability to generate offence without being a slouch in the defensive zone. He uses his speed, agility and ability to process the game quicky and use that his advantage in his own zone. O’Brien does the little things well and has the motor to make things happen when afforded the opportunity.
As mentioned off the top, there is always a risk in taking a USHS player early in the draft but O’Brien chose that route so that he was academically eligible for Providence. He opted to not go to the USHL for more games to ensure that he could make that leap to the NCAA next season.
He appeared in a handful of games for the U18 USNTDP but was held to limited minutes due to not being part of the program for the duration of the season. Throughout his time with Thayer and Cape Cod, he was the best player on the ice night in and night out and thus had to deal with constantly being hounded by opponents. Something he mentioned in an interview:
“Going against Michigan State [he traveled to Plymouth, Michigan, for that Dec. 16 game], and then playing against Exeter [Dec. 19], I really felt like I had more time and space against the college team than I did against a prep school team. They’re on me the whole game. I’m getting banged, getting whacked, getting chirped, all that stuff.”
With all that stated – O’Brien is an interesting prospect who likely goes higher than this ranking. He plays a complete game with good reads, speed and shot. Given the lack of concrete draft data on USHS players, it’s why he has fallen in our rankings a bit. But every time I have seen him play, I can see why he is attractive as a prospect. Just not a first round pick talent.
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As the game went on, O’Brien got more impressive. Even though he has mostly played in the New England prep ranks, he did not look intimidated by the more experienced competition. Speedy and highly skilled, the Providence College commit went top-shelf for a goal and looked good on faceoffs.
CanucksArmy’s 2018 NHL Draft Rankings