Adam Nicholas was already quite familiar with Montreal Canadiens forward prospect Sean Farrell even before he was hired as the Montreal Canadiens director of hockey development on March 4. That’s why he’s so excited to work with Farrell again and believes the sky’s the limit for the Hopkinton, MA native the Canadiens drafted in the fourth round (124th) of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
Before Farrell went on to become a freshman star at Harvard University last season and an international sensation for USA Hockey at the 2022 Olympics and World Championships, he tore up the USHL with a 101-point (29g, 72a), playing for the Chicago Steel. Nicholas worked with Farrell and other Steel players as a development consultant and was amazed at not just Farrell’s skills but the way he sees and thinks the game.
“Off the puck, this kid’s a wizard,” Nicholas told Canadiens.com. “Sean knows where to move and where to go to get pucks with space. He rarely needs to problem-solve heavy pressure, and that’s usually a key component of a smart, heady, undersized player. Sean is a leader. He’s a quiet leader. I call him “The Silent Assassin” because he’s very quiet, but he competes. He wants to win in everything that he does.
Sean Farrell to me is a very heady player. He is phenomenal. He knows how to read the ice. He’s playing chess and everyone else is playing checkers. For me, this guy is going to be very, very special. He thinks the game and he has elite tools, like his shot actually is very underrated. He can wire the thing. And he’s an elite passer.”
At 5-foot-9, 174 pounds, Farrell uses his skill and hockey IQ to compensate for his lac of size.
“He knows how to reload, create speed differentials, how to attack two checks to suck in multiple defenders to free up options for him to move pucks into, and his area passing is amongst the best I’ve seen,” Nicholas pointed out. “He can really manage a puck very well, and that’s his strong suit. He’s also very good on the power play.”
Sean Farrell had 10 goals and 18 assists in 24 games for Harvard last season but he made his presence felt and opened the eyes of scouts and fans a like at the Olympics and World Championships. He led the Americans in scoring with six points (3 goals, 3 assists) in four games in China, and then had another six points (2 goals, 4 assists) in 10 games at the World Championships in Finland. That and more experience playing against men with either the Laval Rocket or Montreal Canadiens will be key to his development going forward.
“For him, the number one player development situation is just getting more experience against men,” Nicholas said. “That’s why he went to Worlds, to get that experience. He was great in the Olympics. Everybody saw how good he was there. It’s just continuously getting him that experience because he’s undersized. The more he’s undersized, he just needs to know how to protect himself against a 200-pound defender, so he doesn’t expose himself and he’s out of the lineup because we want him in as much as we can. And then just understanding the day-to-day grind of the NHL. That’s going to help him as well.”