The Philadelphia Flyers’ win over the New Jersey Devils last Friday night was special in more ways than one.
Not only was it a good team effort to bounce back for the victory after tough losses to both the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins, but rookie forward Joel Farabee was able to get his first NHL goal. He scored it at a crucial time, with over half of the third period already past, to tie the game at three. The goal was able to force overtime, which eventually led to a shootout victory for the Flyers. It was a special moment for the 19-year-old, and just another milestone of his journey to the NHL, and the start of his young career.
Earning the Draft Night Call
Joel Farabee was born in Cicero, New York, which is a suburb outside of the Syracuse area. Hockey is something that is passionate throughout his family. His brother Jesse plays as well, and was a forward for the NCAA’s Oswego Lakers (I was fortunate to help cover his freshman campaign while he was playing for them). Joel eventually made his way to the U.S. National Under-18 Team that plays in the USHL.
It was a solid program for Farabee to join, with many top names decorating the list of notable alumni that have come and gone. Some of these that come to mind include Patrick Kane, Phil Kessel, Jack Eichel, Auston Matthews, and the Flyers’ own James van Riemsdyk.
Farabee played on a team with quite a few now-notable names as well, such as 2019 first overall pick and Devils forward Jack Hughes, New York Islanders prospect Oliver Wahlstrom, and Buffalo Sabres prospect Mattias Samuelsson. He caught the eyes of many scouts and became one of the top names to watch in the 2018 NHL Draft. Eventually, that time finally came for the young man to take his next major step.
Making the Right Impression
Farabee was selected fourteenth overall in the 2018 NHL Draft by the Flyers. He would be committed to playing college hockey, heading over to Boston University, another program very much known for their development of pro hockey players (Clayton Keller, Chris Drury, Charlie McAvoy, and Keith Tkachuk are some of the names). Farabee had a stellar time playing for the Terriers, recording 17 goals and 19 assists for 36 points. Farabee also racked up quite a few accolades while he played in 37 games for the program. He was:
- National Rookie of the Year
- New England Rookie of the Year
- Hockey East Rookie of the Year
- Made the Hockey East All-Rookie Team
- Semifinalist for the Walter Brown Award
These were among other notable honors throughout his 2018-19 campaign with BU. It was no wonder that after only one season playing for BU, the Flyers organization decided it was time to bring Farabee into the fold. He was brought in at a time where new management was taking over in the likes of new general manager Chuck Fletcher and head coach Alain Vigneault. With the new opportunity provided to Farabee, there was also going to be stiff competition due to other young prospects trying to come into the fold. Farabee would shine in training camp, but despite this, was sent down to start the beginning of the 2019-20 season in the American Hockey League with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Fighting His Way Back
Even though he was not able to make the opening night roster for the Flyers, the determination was fired up for Farabee. Getting sent down to the AHL can be looked at in various ways by players. They can handle the news in different manners. There are players who get upset and try to orchestrate their way out of the situation, but many are those who use the transaction as a motivator into taking that next step toward progress.
Farabee no doubt chose the latter option. He posted a point-per-game pace in four contests for the Phantoms (three goals and an assist), and quite a few people took notice. One of those was Vigneault himself, and it was not long before Farabee was up making his NHL debut for the big club. The Flyers announced on Oct. 20 that he was recalled, and would later make his season debut against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Big Decision Ahead
Farabee was able to get his second goal as a Flyer against the Carolina Hurricanes, playing in his eighth game of the season for the club. In addition, he could have had another goal and assist for the Flyers, but they were disallowed by league officials due to the plays both being offside. He has a small window left to show the organization what he can bring, before Fletcher and Vigneault have a decision they need to make.
If Farabee plays more than 10 games for the Flyers, then his entry-level contract kicks in. If he were to not play anymore for the team, then the entry-level deal will be held off for another season. This group-of-games window is used by teams as a trial to see whether a player is ready to make that next step into the NHL, or whether the player needs more seasoning before playing into the entry-level contract. Farabee, in his first eight pro games, has recorded two goals and an assist.
More important than the stats though, Farabee is doing the right things when he plays, and it has impressed Vigneault. There is a certain trust when it comes to Farabee – Vigneault thinks there are certain elements that Farabee brings better than anyone else on the current roster, a positive sign for sure that he is a component in the team’s success.
Regardless of the direction management decides to go in with him, Farabee will continue to shine wherever he plays, and will only continue to get better. It will not be long before Joel becomes a regular in the lineup for the team, and he can potentially be another piece in helping the Flyers turn the corner and become a consistent playoff contender again.