Russ Farwell, the longtime general manager of the Western Hockey League's Seattle Thunderbirds, knows how difficult it is to select the best teenage hockey players in the NHL Draft. As a former GM of the Flyers in the early '90s, like his colleagues he had his share of hits and misses.
But even Farwell was surprised to see the uniquely gifted Mathew Barzal, one of the best players in Seattle history, go unselected for 15 picks - including selections 13, 14 and 15 by the Boston Bruins - before Garth Snow and the Islanders snapped him up in the 2015 NHL Draft.
"We were aware of teams across the NHL that had Mathew as high as fourth or fifth overall in their rankings," Farwell said in a phone conversation from Seattle. "I know Carolina liked him a lot, but decided to go with a good defenseman [Noah Hanfin, fifth overall]. And sure, I was bit surprised he went by those picks Boston had."