Each week we take an in-depth look at young members of the organization while providing an overview of Montreal Canadiens prospects playing at the Junior (OHL, WHL), and collegiate (NCAA) level.
Sean Farrell has been at the forefront of these prospect reports with his record-breaking season. In the month of April, he captured the title of best producer in the Chicago Steel’s history with his 83rd point, then followed it up by joining the very select USHL 100-point club. Unfortunately for Farell, he might find it hard to fit in at the next group meeting as the immense majority of its members played in the 1980s.
Before we continue on the prospect’s performance, let’s clear something up. I see Farrell described as an “over-ager” quite often. As a 19-year-old and a 2001-born prospect, he isn’t one. The over-agers are the 2000-born players in the USHL. The league hosts players from 16 to 21 years old. If Farrell wanted, he could play an extra season after this one and reach even more ridiculous totals. Fortunately for his competition, as long as the NCAA restarts as planned, it won’t happen. The Habs prospect is already committed to Harvard University.
Now back to Farrell’s play.
I’ve detailed the prospect’s scoring improvements in previous editions. The winger has developed his release, but more than that he started using it more often, especially on the power play. His more diverse offensive game has allowed him to turn his already great production into a historic one in his fourth season.
Brock Sheahan, the Steel’s head coach, shed light on Farrell’s improved goal-scoring and his ability to step up and carry the team in key moments.
Chicago Steel head coach Brock Sheahan on Sean Farrell (#GoHabsGo), who led the #USHL with 101 points: "This year he's been way more of a threat to score. He's always been a playmaker, but he's not afraid to be a shot threat which I think has made him an even better playmaker."— Brandon Cain (@brandonmcain) April 26, 2021
Farrell didn’t just round out his game over the course of the season. He also developed his main skill: his playmaking. His 72 assists, a ridiculous 32 more than the next player in the USHL, is a testament to those improvements.
In his draft year, he was one of the better players in the league at finding seams through which to thread passes. Even under pressure, he could locate teammates in the slot and find them with deft touches. This season, on top of doing that, the winger is also preparing his passes better.
In this video of all his assists from last week, pay special attention to how he sets up his feeds. He recorded seven helpers, but could have added even more had his linemates capitalized on the chances he created.
The prospect has learned to connect more plays by protecting possession with his body. As a pass comes to him, he turns his back to opponents, creating a pocket of space in which to receive, handle the puck, and make the next play. He also pulls defenders out of position by challenging them head-on or by skating further down the zone, creating space for trailing teammates to fire off his passes.
On the power play, he isn’t just thinking about his next pass now, but also about the one after. He moves east-west and north-south, fakes shots and passes until he attracts full defensive attention and opens up the necessary passing lanes to complete tic-tac-toe plays. When he senses that the defence has committed to him, he springs his trap.
These abilities to weaponize movement, make the extra stick move or head fake to fully attract and confound the defence, and to not just see the first option available but the best one, could really turn him into a dangerous college playmaker from day one. They will also form the building blocks of the prospect’s NHL future.
This wasn’t a lost season for Farrell. He spent it in one of the better environments in Junior hockey. The Steel employ arguably the best development coach in Darryl Belfry and challenge their player with a ton of diverse offensive and defensive schemes. The organization fosters growth.
Of course, Farrell’s path to the top league passes through important skating improvements — he still strides hunched over, a bit like Jesperi Kotkaniemi in his rookie season — but with this USHL season coming to an end, he has undeniably taken steps toward earning a spot with Montreal in a few years.
CHL Weekly stats
|Kaiden Guhle||2020||LD||WHL||Prince Albert Raiders||0||0||0||0|
|Gianni Faibrother||2019||LD||WHL||Everett Silvertips||4||0||1||1|
|Kieran Ruscheinski||2019||LD||BCHL||Salmon Arm Silverbacks||3||0||0||0|
CHL season to date
|Kaiden Guhle||2020||LD||WHL||Prince Albert Raiders||2||1||1||2|
|Gianni Faibrother||2019||LD||WHL||Everett Silvertips||23||1||16||17|
|Kieran Ruscheinski||2019||LD||BCHL||Salmon Arm Silverbacks||20||1||2||3|
NCAA/USHL weekly stats
|Cole Caufield||2019||RW||Big Ten||Wisconsin||0||0||0||0|
|Jack Gorniak||2018||LW||Big Ten||Wisconsin||0||0||0||0|
|Jack Smith||2020||C||USHL||Sioux Falls||0||0||0||0|
|Jayden Struble||2019||LD||Hockey East||Northeastern||0||0||0||0|
|Jordan Harris||2018||LD||Hockey East||Northeastern||0||0||0||0|
|Luke Tuch||2020||LW||Hockey East||Boston||0||0||0||0|
NCAA/USHL Season to date
|Cole Caufield||2019||RW||Big Ten||Wisconsin||31||30||22||52|
|Jack Gorniak||2018||LW||Big Ten||Wisconsin||31||6||7||13|
|Sean Farrell (playoffs)||2020||LW||USHL||Chicago||6||1||4||5|
|Jack Smith||2020||C||USHL||Sioux Falls||47||7||6||13|
|Jayden Struble||2019||LD||Hockey East||Northeastern||18||2||10||12|
|Jordan Harris||2018||LD||Hockey East||Northeastern||19||6||13||19|
|Luke Tuch||2020||LW||Hockey East||Boston||16||6||5||11|
Goalie weekly stats
Goalie Season to date
|Jakub Dobes (playoffs)||2020||USHL||Omaha||0-2-0||2.10||0.923||0|