Skip to Main Content

O'Brien aims for steady development before joining Flyers

Center prospect to attend Providence College after being No. 19 pick at 2018 NHL Draft

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Jay O'Brien had an interesting reaction when the Philadelphia Flyers selected him with the No. 19 pick of the 2018 NHL Draft.

The 18-year-old center wasn't going to have to buy much in the way of new clothes because he already owned plenty of orange and black gear.

Thayer Academy, the prep school in Braintree, Massachusetts where O'Brien played the past two seasons, wears uniforms similar to the Flyers.

"Right when they called my name, I was like, same colors, same [uniforms]," O'Brien said. "Pretty easy."

O'Brien got to wear a Flyers jersey for a few days during development camp in early July, but he'll be switching to some new colors this season when he wears black, silver and white at Providence College.

He said choosing NCAA hockey instead of the Canadian Hockey League was an easy decision; Shawinigan of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League owns his rights after selecting him with the No. 2 pick of the 2018 QMJHL American Draft.

"I've always wanted to play college hockey, always wanted to play Hockey East college hockey and Providence is a great spot for me," O'Brien said. "It's going to be a big step and I'm ready for the challenge and I'm going to embrace it and I'm going to go in there and make an impact."

O'Brien made an impact at Thayer last season, with 80 points (43 goals, 37 assists) in 30 games. He led all New England prep school players in scoring and won the John Carlton Memorial Trophy, awarded annually by the Boston Bruins to high school seniors who combine hockey and academic excellence. He was No. 32 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters.

"O'Brien is a pure scorer that completely dominated the prep level," Central Scouting's David Gregory said. "And when he moved up a level in tournaments, he got up to speed in a few shifts. A really smart player, sees the ice well. Likes to carry the puck and dictate the pace."

The Flyers were happy with what they saw during development camp, and are going to be patient with O'Brien (5-foot-11, 176 pounds) as he grows his game.

"I think he did well," said Kjell Samuelsson, who ran Flyers development camp. "Little nervous. Anxious to make a first good impression. I think he was great. … [Players] have to realize it's going to take time. If it takes one, two, three years, it's OK. Go at your own pace. Everybody develops totally different."

O'Brien had a bit of an advantage in his development at Thayer; he played for former NHL star Tony Amonte, whose 416 goals are eighth among United States-born players. Amonte scored at least 30 goals eight times in 15 seasons, which included 93 games with the Flyers.

"He had so much success in the NHL and that's what I want to do," O'Brien said. "Hearing from him is so special. It's good to have him along the way."

When that way leads him to getting back into orange and black remains to be seen, but O'Brien said he's in no rush. The goal for this season is to add strength and speed as he adjusts to playing at a higher level.

"I'm not going to put a time on [reaching the NHL]," he said. "I'm going to go into Providence, help the Friars win another national championship and go from there."

View More

The NHL has updated its Privacy Policy effective January 16, 2020. We encourage you to review it carefully.

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.