Since his call up from the American Hockey League in mid-October, Joel Farabee has contributed to the current youth movement of the Philadelphia Flyers. His skillset has never been in question, but, at times, his physicality or lack thereof have been tangible on the ice. All the same, Farabee has suited up for 50 games on the season, scoring 20 points along the way.
His most recent demotion back to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms was largely attributed by management to an illness that caused the rookie to lose close to 10 pounds from his already slight frame. That was on Feb. 25, the day of the NHL trade deadline. Farabee was called back up in the wake of the loss of James van Riemsdyk, who broke his hand blocking a shot against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday. Given the current roster construction, the question now is where Farabee will slot into the lineup.
Early Returns/Second Line
Farabee returned to the lineup on Thursday night against the Carolina Hurricanes in Philadelphia. Rather than placing him directly into van Riemsdyk’s spot on the third line, coach Alain Vigneault chose to have him flank Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny instead. His line didn’t factor into the scoring in the 4-1 victory; and while he logged a team-low 11:32 of ice time, this was likely just the coaching staff’s way of easing him back into things.
The combination of Konecny and Hayes has been on fire as of late, racking up a combined 13 points in the team’s last five games. Putting Farabee in a position to build on this chemistry may be the key to unlocking his potential early in his career. The young winger has also flashed some of his defensive prowess this season, which should pair nicely with Hayes’ strong possession game and Konecny’s relentless attitude. It remains to be seen, however, if the new combination will maintain this high level of production, which the team has come to rely on.
If Farabee doesn’t click right away with his new line, adjustments will undoubtedly be made. The team’s current third line could also provide a seemingly natural fit for the Cicero, NY native. Now comprised of Scott Laughton, Tyler Pitlick and newcomer Derek Grant, the third line has been key in establishing depth scoring for the club. Laughton has only recently been added to the trio, with Farabee replacing him alongside Hayes and Konecny.
Coupling Farabee with Grant and Pitlick could form a buzzsaw of a line, playing a speed and pressure game. Heading into his draft year, Farabee was praised for his skating and offensive instincts. While he is not yet a finished product, his skating has proven to be an asset for him at the highest level. All three players have the ability to force turnovers and capitalize on them, which would be a focus for a line like this. If this is the route that the team opts for, there is a lot to like with this potential pairing. This would also allow you to return Laughton to the second line, where he has enjoyed arguably the greatest success of his career.
With 15 games remaining in the regular season, the Flyers are steamrolling their way to the postseason. Even with their current success, the roster could look quite different come playoff time. Van Riemsdyk will likely be back sometime around the first round of the playoffs, and Nolan Patrick’s status is still up in the air, although his return to practice is a good sign. (from ‘Nolan Patrick on ice for Flyers at practice; says he expects to play this season,’ Philadelphia Inquirer, 02/17/2020)
It is unclear whether Farabee will factor into the team’s Stanley Cup push, but he will certainly get his chance in the remaining few weeks to prove he belongs with the team for good. Opportunity knocks, but with so many players surpassing expectations this season, it will undeniably be an uphill battle.