The Philadelphia Flyers dropped some unexpected news about 22-year-old Joel Farabee over the weekend. General manager (GM) Chuck Fletcher and assistant GM Brent Flahr met with the media on Wednesday at the team’s training facility in Vorhees, NJ. A former player damaged one of the most iconic trophies in professional sports, and rumors about the 2022 NHL Entry Draft are heating up just one week away from the big day in Montreal. Look back on the week that was in Philadelphia.
Farabee Undergoes Surgery
The Flyers announced that Farabee successfully underwent disc replacement surgery in his cervical region on Friday, June 24. The timetable for his recovery is between three and four months, making him questionable to begin training camp and the regular season on time. On Wednesday, Fletcher emphasized the importance of the long-term health of his promising young winger above the rush to open the 2022-23 season in the lineup.
Farabee missed a total of 19 games last season because of an injury in the shoulder area. He scored 17 goals and added 17 assists. Head coach John Tortorella will look to get the Flyers out of the gates running in 2022-23. The news about Farabee, a player who could potentially benefit from his new coach’s structure and high standard, certainly doesn’t help their goal.
Fletcher, Flahr Press Conference
Fletcher and Flahr understandably spoke carefully to avoid tipping their hand ahead of the draft. They gave the expected answer about the strategy of selecting “the best player available” regardless of position. Fletcher did acknowledge the unlikelihood of trading up from the fifth-overall spot because of the lack of willingness of teams in higher positions to pass up the opportunity to acquire high-end talent with their premium picks. He mentioned the infrequency of teams trading back from the fifth-overall spot, but he did not write off either possibility entirely.
The front office executives also announced that assistant coaches Darryl Williams, Kim Dillabaugh, Adam Patterson, and Vinny Yula will remain on the staff entering 2022-23. Tortorella will continue to search for two more assistants to round out the staff. The organization will likely announce more defined roles after the additional hires. The choice for a power-play coach to resurrect the league’s 32nd-ranked unit last season will receive the most scrutiny.
Fletcher spoke positively about the progress of Kevin Hayes and Sean Couturier during their summer training programs. Both centers missed significant time due to injuries in 2021-22. The Flyers’ GM was more hesitant to speak definitively about Ryan Ellis. The organization still hopes to have their projected top defenseman back to begin the 2022-23 season, but the lack of clarity concerning his injury situation continues.
NHL Draft Rumors and Targets
Rumor season is in full swing one week before the draft. Respected prospect expert Bob McKenzie sent the hockey world into oblivion by ranking Juraj Slafkovský as the best available player over the highly-regarded Shane Wright. The lack of consensus at the top of the draft will make for an interesting chain of events in Montreal next week, and Flahr pointed out that the uncertainty could put the Flyers in an advantageous position with the number five pick if a talented player unexpectedly slides.
The mock drafts are pouring in. Jordan Hall of NBC Sports Philadelphia wrote about the rising stock of Cutter Gauthier. The 6-foot-3 center will play NCAA hockey at Boston College next season. He previously spent time playing with the United States National Team Development Program, where recent Flyers first-rounders Farabee and Cam York thrived.
Russ Cohen and Rachel Donner of Locked on Flyers selected David Jiříček with the fifth-overall pick in their podcast network’s comprehensive mock draft. Cohen called the Czech prospect a “top-pairing defenseman that could help cure some ills down the road” for the Flyers. Jiříček, Slovakian blueliner Šimon Nemec, Western Hockey League (WHL) star Matthew Savoie, and Finnish winger Joakim Kemell have been discussed most frequently as Philadelphia’s top targets.
Sandström, Aube-Kubel, and the Future
The Flyers signed goaltender Felix Sandström to a two-year deal worth $775,000 in average annual value (AAV). After making the first five starts of his NHL career in 2021-22, he will compete for a role backing up Carter Hart next season. Russian Olympic standout Ivan Fedotov will play in North America for the first time next season, and he is also expected to compete for the backup job. Fletcher didn’t rule out the option of signing a veteran backup as an alternative to the two inexperienced former Philadelphia draft picks.
Nicolas Aube-Kubel continued the seemingly never-ending trend of former Flyers lifting the Stanley Cup in another uniform. The Colorado Avalanche claimed him off waivers in November after seven regular-season games with Philadelphia. He became a minor contributor to the loaded Avalanche attack, suiting up for 81 total games, including 14 in the postseason and two in the Stanley Cup Final. He hilariously tripped and slightly dented the Stanley Cup during the team’s on-ice celebrations on Sunday night.
Flyers fans have suffered through the jealousy watching former members of the Orange and Black experience Stanley Cup glory in the most enviable positions. Maybe Aube Kubel’s mishap on the big stage will signify a turning point in their fortune.
Colin Newby is a freelance journalist from Delaware County, PA covering the Philadelphia Flyers for The Hockey Writers. He is an encyclopedia of useless sports knowledge with an uncanny ability to rattle off Flyers goaltending stats from 2004 and every Stanley Cup winner during his lifetime. The depths of his knowledge stem from spending his entire life following the Flyers and the NHL, from fan favorites like the “Legion of Doom” and Claude Giroux to forgotten journeymen like Andy Delmore and Branko Radivojevič. He joined the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (PHWA) in 2022.
Colin also covers the Philadelphia Eagles and works for 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia.