With the 19th overall pick, their second selection in the first round of Friday night's NHL draft, the Flyers snagged center Jay O'Brien.

In 2017-18, the 18-year-old played at Thayer Academy, where he put up 80 points (43 goals, 37 assists) in 30 games.

The 5-foot-11, 176-pound American, a native of Hingham, Massachusetts, will play at Providence College in 2018-19.

"He's a really smart player, really good hockey sense," Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said. "He's competitive, he's strong, he's got a little agitator in him. He's got a really good shot and sees the ice well. He's a really good hockey player. He's a little bit undersized but we think he's going to be a fit kid and a strong kid. We really liked him."

It's fair to wonder if the Flyers reached for O'Brien at this spot (see story). NHL Central Scouting had him pegged as the 32nd-ranked North American skater, a 12-spot jump from his midterm mark of 44. He turned out to be the fifth center taken in the draft. Joseph Veleno, the top-ranked North American center, was still on the board and didn't go until 30th overall, where the Red Wings grabbed him.

"We liked him more than Veleno or we would've picked Veleno," Hextall said of O'Brien. "It's upside but we don't feel there's as much risk probably. The history is, there is risk when you take a kid out of that level but we're just going to go by the board, we don't need scouts, right? Like I said, our guys have done a real good job, they see things the way they are, we talk about it, we beat it up and we come to conclusions."


According to NHL Central Scouting, O'Brien models his style of play after Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews but raved about his new teammate, Claude Giroux, after the draft.

O'Brien was the Flyers' second first-round selection. The Flyers drafted winger Joel Farabee with the 14th overall pick (see story).

Day 2 of the draft kicks off Saturday at 11 a.m. The Flyers have seven picks.

"This is one of those drafts," Hextall said. "There's a lot of really good players. Probably a little bit light on the high-end players but there's a lot of really good players, which is why players go in a lot of different orders."

More on the Flyers

• Flyers need to find needle in haystack on Day 2

• History of the 14th overall pick

• History of the 19th overall pick

• NHL draft position preview: Center

• NHL draft position preview: Left wing

• NHL draft position preview: Right wing

• NHL draft position preview: Defensemen