An Unusual Path For Jay O’Brien May Pay Off

Jay O'Brien, Philadelphia Flyers (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Jay O'Brien, Philadelphia Flyers (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

Jay O’Brien has taken an interesting journey in his development. But it could end up paying off big time in the end.

Jay O’Brien made headlines when he decided to leave the NCAA after just one season with Providence College. In 25 games, he had just two goals and three assists. He was riddled by upper-body injuries throughout the season. He seemingly couldn’t adjust to the pace of the college level.

Committing to the school at just 15 years old, it was clear that things weren’t working out for him or Providence. While the injuries did play a role, the strength was a big factor as well.

So O’Brien made a tough choice, one that had many questioning if he could become the player the Flyers drafted. He decided to step over to the BCHL, a junior A hockey league. He went there to prove himself and continue to develop. He would then be heading back to the NCAA, this time to Boston University.

It was a huge decision, but one that looks like it will pay dividends in the future. With a lot to prove, especially as a top prospect on the team, O’Brien showed off the scoring prowess that he had in his final season at Thayer Academy. That season, he posted 43 goals and 37 points in 30 games. The high school level is different, but it provided us with a look at what he was able to do.

That same confidence didn’t carry over to Providence College or a brief trip with the USA U20 team. But he found it once again thanks to the Penticton Vees. In his only season with the team, he was their best player. O’Brien led the team in goals (25) and points (66). That was a 1.43 points-per-game pace.

He posted the fifth-most points in the entire league. His PPG pace was also fifth, though the top two players only played three games combined. So we can say that he was third in the league in that category.

O’Brien also posted five goals and five assists in five playoff games before the season was suspended. That gave him a 2.00 PPG pace in the playoffs. A small sample size, but one that had him first in goals, and second in both points and PPG. So clearly, that trip to the BCHL lit a fire under him.

“But I would say that he’s going to have no problem when next year he gets to college, he’s going to be a heck of a hockey player.”

That was a big compliment from possibly an unexpected source. Chris Clark, interim head coach and GM of the Wenatchee Wild had a lot to say. Among the things he also mentioned was the immense swagger and confidence that O’Brien played with.

The confidence seemed to be the biggest thing for O’Brien. Getting back to the level he was playing at before was huge. And after one season in the BCHL, he has done just that. The true test will be how he fares in his second collegiate season with a new program.