The 2020 NHL Draft class of the Montreal Canadiens is shaping up to be one of their best in recent history. Kaiden Guhle appears primed to break into the NHL lineup this year, while Jan Mysak is coming off a strong final OHL season. Blake Biondi and Jakub Dobes put together strong NCAA seasons, while Luke Tuch has a tantalizing combination of size and power. Also in that draft class, picked right at the end of the fourth round at 124th overall is Sean Farrell.
Going into the draft, many scouting services had Farrell ranked in the second to third round, with a few thinking he could potentially sneak into the late first. However, likely due to his smaller stature, he fell to the fourth round, and right into the lap of the Montreal Canadiens.
There were some concerns about what his development would be like after COVID wiped out his first year of NCAA hockey, so he returned to the USHL and left with a mountain of hardware.
That team was loaded with talent including Matthew Coronato, Mackie Samoskevich, Adam Fantilli, and more, yet it was Farrell who stood above them all. Admittedly, being an older player means that he should have been standing at the top of the pile, but he did so in dominant fashion. He not only led his team in points, he led the USHL overall, and had the most assists while helping Chicago win the Clark Cup. For his troubles he was named a First-Team All-Star, USHL Player of the Year, and USA Hockey Junior Player of the Year.
His first season at Harvard continued his ascent up the Canadiens’ prospect ladder, producing just over a point per game for the Crimson. His strong showing earned him a surprising invite to the United States Olympic Team, where he also put on quite a showing in four games. Closing out the year with a solid showing at the World Championship helped bolster his profile in the eyes of Habs fans going into his second NCAA season.
Most of the voting has Farrell firmly inside the top 10. Given the success of Cole Caufield in the Canadiens organization, many of us believe that Farrell can follow a similar path. However, he did land outside the top 10 on several ballots.
Top 25 Under 25 History
After Caufield declared Farrell’s late selection in 2020 a “steal,” there was no other option but to place him within the Top 25 later that summer. He jumped up 11 spots last year and now ranks as one of the best young players in the organization.
History of #8
As has always been the case, Farrell is a fantastic playmaker on the wings with a knack for finding lanes other players miss. Since his draft year, he has always been noted for being a setup man more than a finisher, with years of 41 and 72 assists in his Steel tenure.
Due to his smaller size, he has had to find creative ways to be effective as he’s progressed in his playing career. He is always scanning the offensive zone looking for new ways to attack opposing defences, and in the same vein he has no issue trying high-difficulty plays to create opportunities.
One of the hardest parts of analyzing the game of a smaller player is guessing how they’ll fare at higher levels of play. In the NCAA, Farrell missed some time due to injuries sustained after taking a huge open-ice hit. He was able to return for the ECAC playoffs, but it’s something that he has to be aware of especially when he breaks into the pro ranks.
While his production is also very good, he tends to contribute a lot of points in a few games, then be held off the scoresheet for a period of time. Given that he will be slotting into a more prominent role this year, improving his consistency is a must.
There were some rumblings in the off-season about whether Farrell would advance to the professional ranks after just one NCAA season, but he and the Habs decided that returning to Harvard for another year was the proper choice. The calls in the coming year for a pro deal will likely grow even louder.
He’s going to be a heavily-relied-upon piece of the Harvard offence in 2022-23, and the expectation is going to be that he can improve upon his 28 points in 24 games last year. Every year he has improved, so it’s hard to bet against him in that regard, so long as he can address his overall consistency.
Beyond that, he is someone the Canadiens’ front office thinks the world of, and for good reason. He’s a dynamic playmaker off the wing, and brings a skill set to the prospect pool that few can match. We’ve seen how Caufield can thrive based on hockey IQ and a strong skill set at the NHL level, and the Canadiens are hoping Farrell can do something similar in the near future.
If he can continue to build on his strong base of skills, the Canadiens are adding a huge piece to their rebuilding timeline, but as with everything in hockey, there are no absolute guarantees. Personally, I’ve been a fan of Farrell since I wrote his original draft profile, and he’s continued to impress each season.
Chris Peters from flohockey.tv, and Talking Hockey Sense podcast. Peters is known to be a very good hockey draft and prospect evaluator, and he gives us his thoughts on Sean Farrell in today’s episode of Habsent Minded: Top 25 Under 25