2018-19 Team: Dexter Academy (#9)
Date of Birth: Feburary 14, 2001
Place of Birth: Red Bank, New Jersey
Ht: 6-foot-0 Wt: 185 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2019 first-year eligible
- The Hockey Writers (Pike’s Picks): 86th (final)
- Future Considerations: 51st (final)
- ISS: outside of first round (April)
- Bob McKenzie: outside of top 15 (April; draft lottery update)
- Craig Button: 83rd (March)
The NHL Draft has often faced challenges in terms of adequately evaluating and ranking high school players. While enough players in Canadian major junior, major European leagues and more recently the United States Hockey League have made the jump to the NHL for teams to have an idea of what a player on the way to success looks like, high school players are still very hit and miss.
That said, every season there are a few strong high school players that generate considerable draft buzz. This year’s draft class likely won’t see a high schooler taken in the first round like Jay O’Brien (2018) or Casey Mittelstadt (2017), but there are some intriguing players in the mix from that level of hockey. Potentially the top high school prospect in the 2019 NHL Draft class is John Farinacci of the the Dexter Academy prep school.
A product of the Garden State, Farinacci worked his way through the usual steps that high-end players would in New Jersey; ending up at the prestigious Dalbarton School, followed by stops at Shattuck St. Mary’s and finally Dexter Acadamy. He’s been a very productive offensive player at every step, while a point-per-game performance at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup against the top under-18 players in the world helped put his talent in context. He was one of the better players at that event.
Related: Our Free NHL Draft Guide
The other thing that helps Farinacci is his school. Several players have progressed through Dexter Academy on their way to the NHL Draft. Most notably, both Ryan Donato and Jack Rathbone traveled the road that Farinacci hopes to – playing at Dexter en route to Harvard and, hopefully, the NHL. Scouts have an idea of what a successful Dexter forward looks like and how that success can project to the next level, something that puts Farinacci in a favourable position.
Farinacci hasn’t spent a ton of time against high-end opposition. His biggest test was the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, and he showed very well. But his small high-end sample size will drag his draft value down a bit. But he’s a talented, big-bodied offensive presence and as long as scoring goals is the object of hockey, Farinacci will have a good deal of value at the NHL Draft.
John Farinacci – NHL Draft Projection
Farinacci projects to be selected during the third round, though there’s the potential that a team with multiple second round selections may take a flyer on him late in that round.
“A fast playmaker who likes to possess the puck and control the flow inside the offensive zone, Farinacci is highly competitive and does not rely solely on his puck skills to make an impact during his shifts. He kills penalties, can center a top line and be the focal point on the power play. But he also can play aggressive and uses his strength to win puck battles, and his ability to spot and connect with open teammates through traffic makes opponents resort to double teams, thus leaving gaps in the defense. Farinacci, who is headed to Harvard in a couple of seasons, has very soft hands and is patient around the goal mouth to make the extra fake necessary to slip the puck home.” – Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst
“Farinacci isn’t the most mobile forward. His skating wasn’t a weakness against his competition and probably won’t really be in the NCAA, but he will need to work on it if he wants to keep up and beat professionals to loose pucks and up the ice. Apart from his feet, the centreman’s ability to get open, use teammates, and do so quickly should have him learn to generate offence for Harvard over the next few years.” – David St-Louis, Habs Eyes on the Prize
- Good hockey sense, particularly in the offensive zone.
- Good puck distributor.
- Effective finisher around the net.
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Will need to add some muscle to withstand the physical battles at higher levels of hockey.
- Needs to continue to develop his game away from the puck.
Other 2019 NHL Draft Profiles
Farinacci projects as a middle six center at the NHL level, if his development keeps moving along. His game could end up resembling Travis Zajac.
Risk – 1/5, Reward – 3.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense 8/10, Defense 7/10
Farinacci captained the American entry at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. He was also named to USA Today’s All USA Boys Hockey First Team, an all-star team for high school men’s hockey players
Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames and the NHL Draft extensively since 2010 as a Senior Writer for The Hockey Writers and Senior Contributing Editor of FlamesNation.ca. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, he lives in Calgary.