When a player of smaller stature with some flaws comes up on the draft board, a team has to analyze whether or not their strengths make up for those issues. Sean Farrell is one such player that falls into that category — he isn’t overly large and he doesn’t shine as a goal scorer.
However, Farrell is a fantastic playmaker. Using his hockey IQ and awareness to find teammates in scoring areas helped to power a very strong Chicago Steel team this past year. While he lined up with two of the top goal scorers on the team, Farrell is a huge part in creating those goals and generating that vaunted Chicago attack.
Birthplace: Hopkinton, Massachusetts
Date of Birth: November 2, 2001
Weight: 174 lbs.
Draft-Year Team: Chicago Steel (USHL)
Farrell will depart the USHL for Harvard University this year, leaving his talented linemates and presenting him with the challenge to continue his dominant playmaking ways with new teammates. While Harvard may not have a Brendan Brisson, Farrell is more than capable of still creating plays for whoever he plays with.
Above all else, Farrell is a standout when he’s pulling the strings and creating setups for his linemates. His 41 assists were tied for first in the USHL this past year, and his puck distribution helped to push Brisson to a fantastic draft season, and likely into a first-round selection. Farrell rarely lets a play die when he’s on the ice, using his work ethic to disrupt opposing defences and open up space for his teammates.
With that space, Farrell is a master at getting the pucks into the slot as he led the Steel in completed passes to the slot by a wide margin. His ability to routinely put passes into high-danger areas makes him a special kind of player, and in that same regard, he isn’t afraid to make high-risk passes to make plays happen.
While his playmaking is his bread and butter, Farrell showed tremendous growth as a defensive option on the wing this year as well. While not an elite-level defensive winger like a Luke Evangelista, he more than holds his own in his own end and as a penalty killer. Elite Prospects notes that he does well to pick up his man in transition and support his teammates in those situations.
Now, for Farrell, the biggest knock on him is that he doesn’t generate enough goal scoring on his own, with just 15 goals this past season. It’s not that he’s incapable of scoring goals, it’s that he often isn’t selfish enough to look for his own shot. The worry with that is Farrell might have picked that up as a habit going forward, and it could limit what his offensive ceiling is at the NCAA and professional level.
The other major flaw in his game is something that plagues a lot of other draft prospects — their skating. It’s a bit harsh since Farrell is a solid skater, but with the way he attacks opposing defences he’ll have to improve his mechanics to have the same success. He attacks with momentum, which is great for the USHL, but at the NCAA level and very much so at the professional level, he’ll have to learn to use varying speeds to challenge defenders.
Part of that comes from being more of a play driver as opposed to a facilitator too. It’s great that Farrell can distribute the puck, but if he can begin to challenge defenders with different looks he can bring his offensive skills to the next level.
Elite Prospects: #42
Future Considerations: #44
Hockey Prospect: Not Ranked
NHL Central Scouting: #62 (NA Skaters)
TSN/Bob McKenzie: #85
Farrell is ranked from the early second round all the way into the late third round across the above rankings, meaning it’s entirely possible he’ll still be on the board when the Canadiens make their picks on day two of the Draft. He checks off a lot of boxes for what the team might be looking for, but at the same time he also lacks in some areas that the team should be looking for.
Above all else, Farrell shines as a playmaker on the wing and the Habs need some skilled help in that regard. He regularly gets pucks into dangerous areas and can more than hold his own when called upon defensively.
However, his style of attack may have some difficulty adjusting when he starts his college playing career and beyond that, unless he begins to diversify his tactics. If teams hone in on him and his attack fails to adjust, Farrell lacks the goal-scoring prowess to switch modes and pressure defences.
Farrell is a bit smaller but plays the game with the hustle and attack of someone much larger. There are legit concerns about how his strengths will translate to the next levels of his career, however, if they do, he could be a gem in the second or third round if he’s available. He could also stagnate and not reach his potential ceiling, but if the Canadiens are interested in adding a solid playmaking winger to their prospect pool, Sean Farrell could be well worth the bet.