No one can accuse David Farrance of thinking small.
“I’d like to play like Erik Karlsson,” the Rochester native said. “It’s a bit of a stretch, but why not shoot for that?”
Farrance has a long way to go to become a Norris Trophy candidate, but he’ll take his next step this weekend. The defenseman is one of at least four Western New Yorkers with a chance to hear his name called at the NHL Draft.
Farrance is the 46th-best skater in North America, according to NHL Central Scouting. He is expected to go in the second, third or fourth rounds.
Pittsford’s Jack Dugan is ranked 108th, followed by Eden’s Dylan Seitz (No. 123) and Rochester’s Jacob Tortora (No. 165). There will be 217 selections made Friday and Saturday in Chicago.
Teams will be looking for their own version of Karlsson, and Farrance is an offensive-minded defenseman who wants to emulate Ottawa’s star.
“I like how he skates, how he controls the puck,” Farrance said. “When the puck’s on his stick, he can control a game.”
Farrance has had his own moments through the years. He starred for Victor High School and the Syracuse Stars before joining the U.S. National Team Development Program. He’ll head to Boston University in the fall.
Farrance’s numbers jump off the stat sheet. The defenseman had 55 goals and 81 points in 31 games for Victor from 2013 to 2015. At the same time, he put up 47 goals and 84 points in 57 games for Syracuse’s under-16 team.
He joined USA Hockey in 2015-16. He had five goals and 30 points in 56 games in the United States Hockey League during the past two seasons.
“It matured me as a person and as a player,” said Farrance, who turns 18 on Friday. “I really developed all parts of my game. The coaching staff does an excellent job, so I was lucky to be there.”
The U.S. team used 10 defensemen last season, with Farrance finishing second in scoring among blue-liners.
“That defense corps, it was hard for those guys to separate themselves one against the other, but they all improved over the course of the season,” said Dan Marr, director of NHL Central Scouting.
Farrance showed his improvement in April at the under-18 world championships in Slovakia. He had two goals and three points in seven games as the United States won the gold medal.
While the defenseman has no problem going up the ice, he could use work in his own zone. He also lacks ideal size, measuring 5-foot-11 in sneakers at the combine. The 195-pounder feels he has the skill to overcome that.
“Height and size, it matters in the game,” Farrance said. “But I think it’s growing to more speed and creativity in the game today. I’ve been able to deal with it fine.”
Dugan plays for Northwood School in Lake Placid under Chadd Cassidy, former coach of the Rochester Americans. The winger had 32 goals and 93 points in 47 games this season. Still, Dugan dropped from No. 82 in Central Scouting’s midterm rankings to No. 108 in the final evaluation.
Seitz made the jump from the Buffalo Jr. Sabres to Kitchener of the Ontario Hockey League this season. The center had eight goals and 18 points in 60 games, then added one assist in five playoff appearances. The 6-foot-1, 189-pounder represented the United States in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial.
Tortora was teammates with Farrance in the U.S. development program and on the under-18 gold-medal winners. Tortora recorded nine goals and 17 points in 17 games in the USHL. He had two goals and four points in seven games at the worlds. The 5-6, 162-pounder winger is set to attend Boston College.