It’s time for our annual countdown of the best 25 Nashville Predators players under 25 years old!
This is not only a tradition here at OTF, but is also something that you might see at many other SBNation NHL blogs. The premise is simple: rank the 25 best players who have not yet reached their 25th birthday (as of August 1st, 2018).
At #17, David Farrance.
Farrance was a quiet pick when taken in the third round last summer, but went into his freshman season at Boston with considerable hype. A loaded depth chart on the back-end and Farrance’s tough (at times) adjustment to collegiate hockey dampened what could have been an impressive campaign. Nonetheless, Farrance showed flashes in the second half of the season when he played more on the wing.
In Corey Pronman’s ranking of the organization’s farm system, he notes that Farrance is:
...a fantastic skater with skill and puck-moving ability [but]...He got exposed a bit at the college level.
By The Numbers
Like many high-end American products, Farrance is a graduate of the U.S. National Team Development Program. In his 2016-17 season, Farrance compiled a stunning 54 points over 89 games plus three more points in seven World Junior Championship appearances.
In the third round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, five other defensemen were selected from the USNTDP or the USHL (four of them ahead of Farrance): Max Gildon, Kasper Kotkansalo, Ben Mirageas, Reilly Walsh, and Clayton Phillips. Farrance finished his junior career with better offensive production than all five and still looks like the leader of the group when it comes to NHL potential, but he didn’t stand out as a legit NHL prospect last summer.
After seeing his skill set against tougher competition, I was notably impressed overall. He had some bad stretches - especially on defense - but didn’t skip a beat when he switched back and forth between offense and defense.
Farrance will have the benefit of a clearer depth chart (and hopefully no healthy scratches) this season assuming Boston’s new coach returns him to defense. He is currently listed as one of six defensemen on the roster (along with Dante Fabbro). This is part of the reason why Farrance jumps onto this year’s list after being left off last summer.
The other reason is Farrance’s impressive elevation of his game in February and March last season. From February 23rd to March 25th, Farrance totaled three goals and 30 shot attempts - 90% of which were at even strength.
I’ll be curiously watching who he is paired with at the start of the season, and if he can get off to a much quicker start than in 2017. And, with that said, I’ll have Pronman’s point from February in the back of my mind:
Farrance’s game tape is aided by one of the best end-to-end rushes I have ever seen. This won’t be a regular occurrence whatsoever, but the goal below highlights the puck confidence he possesses and his preference for a choppy, but effective stride. I love how he keeps the puck moving at all times with his head up - not something you see from every defenseman.
This next goal is one of Farrance’s clutch ones at the end of last season. He probably camps in one spot a little too early to be effective at higher levels of play but makes a really smart adjustment on his stick to place the puck through traffic and past the netminder.
#NCAA: @USAHockeyNTDP alums connect for a goal.— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) March 24, 2018
LW Brady Tkachuk applied pressure on the Cornell breakout, got the puck back and set up LHD David Farrance (NSH 3rd/2017) to give BU a 2-1 lead early in the 3rd. pic.twitter.com/MJ3VZNxwef
Farrance is unsigned but remains under control of the organization until August 15, 2021 or 30 days after he withdraws from college if he does so earlier.
Pronman ranks Farrance as the 11th best prospect in the organization and gives him a shot at being a player who fills out an NHL roster as a depth option. I’m not certain I am as convinced, but he gets a boost for his above-average puck-handling abilities and offensive prowess that could help him surprise us down the line.
Additionally, Farrance was cut from Team USA’s World Junior Summer Showcase roster rendering his chances at playing at the WJC this winter very unlikely.