Happy Jay O’Brien Day to those who celebrate! The Philadelphia Flyers have officially released their former prospect, as his rights expired on Aug. 15. This means that O’Brien will now be free to negotiate a contract and sign with any NHL team of his choosing, he will very likely need to begin his journey in professional hockey in the AHL or ECHL. As is customary for this scenario, the Flyers will be granted a 2024 second-round pick as compensation for O’Brien’s departure.
O’Brien was originally drafted 19th overall in the 2018 NHL Draft, adding to a lengthy list of draft busts selected by former GM Ron Hextall. The 2018 draft was not a particularly deep one, but there are still quite a few players out there producing, even in limited roles. O’Brien might never do that.
The 23 year old has struggled a ton with injuries and his performance since being drafted, failing to have one single season averaging more than a point-per-game. The only time he did that was in the 2020-21 season, scoring 16 points in an injury-marred 16 game season. O’Brien simply has not developed at a rate conducive to NHL success, let alone one that justifies his draft status. To date, O’Brien has just 28 goals in 104 NCAA games with Providence College and Boston University.
O’Brien’s selection in 2018 marked the third consecutive year that the Flyers drafted a center in the first round. The previous two were Nolan Patrick, of course, and German Rubtsov. Rubtsov played just four games for the team, Patrick’s career seems to be over now, and O’Brien might never make the NHL. At this point, it is not hard to see why the Flyers are in the position that they are in. On the other side of the same coin, it makes it easy to be excited about Danny Briere’s first draft as the team’s GM and what he is trying to build in Philly.
O’Brien is the only player on the Flyers’ reserve list whose rights expire in 2023. 2019 seventh-round pick Bryce Brodzinski and 2015 fourth-round pick Mikhail Vorobyov will both see their rights expire in 2024.