Though true that NHL clubs use the league’s annual Draft to handpick their next batch of essentially high school-aged players, it isn’t very often they are called to the stage representing their actual high school – but more often junior leagues in Canada or Europe. In fact, you’d have to go back to 2005 for the last time the Los Angeles Kings selected a player straight out of his high school. Who was it?
A goalie most people have now heard of, Jonathan Quick (drafted in the third round out of Avon Old Farms High School in Connecticut). The year prior, they took Paul Baier in the second round, a Massachusetts high schooler. He never played a single NHL game. And the year prior to that, Los Angeles used a late first round selection — their second of the round, having already scooped up Dustin Brown at No. 13 — to snag a kid named Brian Boyle out of St. Sebastian’s High School in Massachusetts. That Boyle guy has done alright for himself in the NHL, including three trips to the Stanley Cup Final with three different teams.
With the Kings once again holding multiple picks in the first round — and the second pick at the top of the second round, giving them a total of three selections among the first 33 players to be taken — GM Rob Blake and his staff will be busy early on in the Draft. Once again, there are a few high school kids who come into play; with one of them being John Farinacci, who is Harvard bound come the fall. What sets him apart is no independent scouting service projects him player to be taken in the first round. Yet, that doesn’t stop NHL teams from having an interest in him; and although he’ll most likely get taken as early as the second round, some teams do crazy things once they’re on the clock.
With 10 picks at the time of this writing, only two of which are in the first round, the Kings have several more opportunities to dig up a gem later on; it’s these unsuspected steals, like Quick in the third round, who can help define the next generation of Kings hockey.
Date of Birth: February 14, 2001
Weight: 190 lbs
Farinacci spent his 2018-19 season in a bit of a split. Most of his season was with Dexter Southfield (high school), where he scored 33 points (12 G, 21 A) in 16 games – good for second on the team even though he only played half the games. A chunk of the season was lost, as he was recovering from a bone contusion in his knee. He also posted three points (2 G, 1 A) in two games for the Muskegon Lumberjacks in the USHL and was held without a point in two more bouts for the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP). While captaining the United States in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, he was able to put up five points (2 G, 3 A) in five contests.
In our previous 2019 Draft Previews, we have provided you with former Kings and prospects who followed a similar path as the player featured. This time around, there doesn’t appear to be any former Kings (on anybody from the LA organization) who spent time at Dexter Southfield or with Muskegon.
Not so fast, though – other have found success going through these programs: Ryan Donato went to Dexter Southfield, and Andrei Svechnikov, the 2018 second overall pick, was at Muskegon before carving a path to the NHL.
Farinacci is lauded for his leadership, and a couple times at the last week’s NHL Combine, it was referenced. Adam Kimelman quoted Farinacci in this article: “I think take a lot of pride in pushing my teammates and getting the most out of them,” he said. “The most important thing for me is winning so if I can get everybody around me to be playing better and elevate my teammates it gives us a better chance to win. Not only do I take a lot of pride in it but I think it helps the team out in general.”
He also was posed with an interesting hypothetical question on the third day: “There’s a 50/50 chance of a 20-foot python who hasn’t eaten in five months is in the hallway,” Farinacci said. “There’s five of us in this room. Which one’s going out there?”
Rankings by Independent Scouting Services
- 43rd by The Draft Analyst – this was a decrease from the previous value of 34th in December 2018
- 101st in McKeen’s final rankings, complimenting his quick hands and feet, as well as his wrist shot
- 73rd by Larry Fisher of The Hockey Writers, similar to his previous ranking of 72nd
See For Yourself
There aren’t any readily available highlight reels exemplifying Farinacci’s skillset, but you can watch him play a complete game to get an idea of how he plays on a shift-by-shift basis:
What separates Farinacci from most of the other prospects we’ve featured here is he’s not projected to be drafted into the first round. However, successful organizations need to look beyond the first round to find the right people to fit on the team and grow as a person. In defenseman Mikey Anderson, a recent LA draft pick, the Kings have a prospect who gets tremendous praise for his leadership abilities. He was selected in the fourth round of the 2017 Draft – and, surely, he is just one example of many. While Farinacci may not get as much fanfare, due to playing against less challenging competition for most of the year, his leadership and versatility could provide an NHL club with a multi-faceted weapon down the road.
NOTE: Author David Hofreiter can be found on Twitter @Davidenkness if you’re interested in talking more hockey with him or asking further questions about this player.
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