Former top hockey prospect John McFarland retires at age 26


Nashville Predators defenseman Scott Valentine, left, and Florida Panthers left wing John McFarland (45) battle for the puck during the second period of the first of two preseason NHL hockey games. (Wilfredo Lee/AP)

John McFarland, once touted as a potential future NHL superstar, has retired from professional hockey at age 26.

The Bakersfield Condors made the announcement Tuesday as McFarland had been with the organization since signing a one-year AHL contract in the summer of 2018 after two years spent playing in Europe.

McFarland was drafted by the Sudbury Wolves with the first-overall pick in the 2008 Ontario Hockey League priority selection after a remarkable career with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens in the Greater Toronto Hockey League. During his minor midget season, McFarland recorded 96 goals and 165 points as the top star of a team that included current NHLers Tyler Toffoli and Devante Smith-Pelly.

The Richmond Hill, Ont., native’s time in the OHL was split between the Wolves, Saginaw Spirit and Ottawa 67’s. He recorded 90 goals and 100 assists in 219 total games in junior.

John Tavares and Steven Stamkos were the top OHL picks in 2005 and 2006, respectively, but McFarland didn’t end up being a top NHL pick like them. Instead, he was more like 2007 top OHL pick Ryan O’Reilly. Both were taken 33rd overall in their respective NHL draft years. McFarland was chosen by the Florida Panthers in 2010, but unlike the three other top OHL picks mentioned he never broke through at the NHL level.

McFarland spent parts of three seasons with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage, while also mixing in stints with ECHL Cincinnati Cyclones. He made his NHL debut during the 2015-16 campaign but it lasted just three games. He spent 2016-17 with SaiPa in Finland and 2017-18 with HC La Chaux-de-Fonds in the Swiss league before returning to North America this past off-season.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.