The former 2018 first round pick of the Flyers has found a new team ahead of the 2023-24 season.
Jay O’Brien will be playing professional hockey next season after the Philadelphia Flyers officially released him last week. The 19th overall selection in 2018 has signed a one year AHL deal with the Toronto Marlies, the minor league affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
It will be a good opportunity for O’Brien to try and get on the radar of either the Leafs or any other NHL team. After dealing with multiple injuries and losing a chunk of his developmental time, it’s likely going to take some time for O’Brien to establish himself. Five years after he was drafted, the Flyers simply couldn’t wait to see if he was going to pan out. At the time, it appeared to be quite a reach for former GM Ron Hextall to take by drafting O’Brien that high. Of course, you never know how things are going to turn out down the line.
There’s a chance that if injuries hadn’t derailed some of O’Brien’s time, the Flyers might’ve been more willing to sign him to an entry level contract. Instead, Philadelphia receives a compensatory second round pick in 2024 since they did not sign him to a deal before his rights expired. O’Brien has struggled at the collegiate level, originally committing to Providence where he only appeared in 25 games and registered just five points. He took a year away from the college game and seemed to get his groove back playing for the Penticton Vees in the BCHL. His 25 goals and 66 points looked much more like the numbers he put up in his final year of high school.
Moving to Boston University, O’Brien once again struggled to put up points. This past season has been his best at the college level, collecting 32 points in 39 games. He still only scored eight goals, however. Ravaged by injures and dealing with pauses from COVID, it’s possible that he simply stalled in his growth because of all of the interruptions to playing. There were times when O’Brien would look like he was finally breaking through before an injury would hit. He’s gone under the knife as well, having hip surgery before this past season. Plenty of hockey players will say that numerous injuries can weigh on them both physically and mentally. If O’Brien can get his swagger back, there’s a chance he’ll be able to make a career for himself at the professional level.
His chance to prove that he can do that is now. In the Flyers case, they ran out of time trying to figure out if he could.