The Chicago Steel is a model Junior organization with an intense focus on development. It’s not rare to see players who pass through that system improve rapidly over the course of a season due to the team’s skill-focused practices. With their reputation, the organization also attracts some of the best prospects around. Development and talent acquisition is how they ended up with five players in the top-10 for points in the USHL.
Sean Farrell is one of them. Farrell formed an extremely dominant duo with the first-rounder selection of the Vegas Golden Knights, Brendan Brisson. Farrell passed, Brisson shot, and the pair racked up goals.
Birthplace: Hopkinton, Massachusetts
Date of birth: November 2, 2001
Weight: 174 lbs.
Team: Chicago Steel (USHL)
Farrell is first and foremost a rushing threat. He loves to carry the puck up ice. It’s partly why he worked so well with Brisson, a player who likes to hunt open space and trail the play. Farrell would barrel down the wing, shift down after the zone entry, and find his teammate for booming one-timers.
He is quick, but his skating has some mechanical issues. He lacks ankle flexion and recovers his feet wide of his centre of mass. Still, he manages to generate speed by powering through his inefficiency at a high rate and using crossovers. The prospect overwhelms opponents with his high-pace attacks, but his elevated tempo never prevents him from spotting great passion options.
Off the rush, he also protects possession well from defenders. He puts the puck away from their reach by handling with one hand and leans on opponents to prevent them from totally closing his space. The winger manages to barely slip in the offensive zone in situations other players would have crashed against a neutral-zone defensive wall.
He has similar elusive qualities in the offensive zone. He lacks strength, but avoids getting pinned and forced into battles along the boards by changing speeds and making timely cutbacks, buying himself extra seconds to find a teammate in the slot. He doesn’t force passes. When plays aren’t open, he continues to circle the zone until the defensive coverage breaks and a lane opens. He can also open those lanes with deception, like looking off his intended passing target, or by changing the angles of his feeds to have them bypass defenders.
Away from the puck, Farrell takes appropriate routes to support the play and shows good timing to attack the slot and present his stick for passes coming from below the goal line. He also isn’t afraid to work through traffic to get his blade on the puck when it sits in the crease.
Here are a couple of clips taken from last season that illustrates the winger’s game quite well.
The prospect improved defensively throughout the year. In the second half of the season, he backchecked with more intensity and recognized his assignments better as he entered the defensive zone. When he was forced to be the F1 in the defensive end, he supported his defencemen in corner battles despite lacking the strength and the length of some of his counterparts.
Farrell’s high pace of play, his vision, his elusiveness, and his passing ability should make him an immediately threatening top-six player for Harvard University when he joins the team, be it this season or next.
To become more than a great college player, Farrell will need to continue working on his skating so that he can catch defenders off-guard at the NHL level, too. He will also have to add even more trickery to his offensive movements and rushes, like changes of speed and corridor, so that he continues to elude even professional defenders. At 5’9”, he won’t be able to outmuscle them in battles.
Diversifying his game by becoming a dangerous shooter would also help him retain his offence as he rises through the rank.
NHL Central Scouting: #62 (North American skaters)
Elite Prospects: #42
Future Considerations: #44
TSN/Craig Button: #70
McKeen’s Hockey: #45
Overall, at the 123rd selection, the Canadiens added some more skill to their prospect pool. If Farrell continues to add to his game, he could become a play-driving winger for them in the not-too-distant future.