NEW YORK — Remember when Alain Vigneault asked for surprises at the beginning of training camp?
Well, the head coach isn't about to surprise himself.
The 19-year-old Joel Farabee more than played the part of an NHL player Thursday night at Madison Square Garden in the Flyers' 2-1 exhibition loss to the Rangers (see observations).
The Flyers fly to Switzerland Friday night and open the 2019-20 regular season next Friday against the Blackhawks in Prague, Czech Republic.
If he's not in the lineup that first game," Vigneault said of Farabee, "it would be a surprise.
He's played extremely well. In my mind, if we would start tomorrow, he would probably be in our lineup.
Farabee has shown everything in his arsenal except actually putting the puck in the net. But, yeah, suffice it to say the Flyers know the 2018 first-round pick can score. He did so prolifically with the U.S. national team development program and then in one year at Boston University.
"Kid's got a lot of upside, got a lot of potential," Vigneault said. "He's a little bit snakebitten."
Aside from being snakebitten on the score sheet, Farabee has exhibited why he's been such a quick riser at every stage. He can scale a lineup as he fit in with Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, and supplemented Scott Laughton and Michael Raffl in a third-line role Thursday night. Laughton, Raffl and Farabee combined for nine shots, with the teenage prospect leading the team overall at five.
What coaches love, though, is Farabee's max effort, which augments his versatility. During the second period against the Rangers, Farabee was knocked on his butt in the slot with a blindside hit. He bounced right back up and immediately looked ready to deflect any shot that was going to come his way.
"Kid's smart and a really good player," Laughton said. "I enjoyed playing with him tonight."
Laughton very well may see him on his wing next Friday.
The Flyers have one more preseason game remaining — next Monday overseas.
Farabee, of course, will be on the trip.
Does he feel like he's done enough to win a spot?
"That's tough to say," Farabee said modestly. "I think that's a question for a couple of other guys, not me."
On Thursday night at the world's most famous arena, it sure sounded like Vigneault had his answer.
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