Flyers

Joel Farabee's window to make Flyers' roster is open — but just how much?

Joel Farabee's window to make Flyers' roster is open — but just how much?

Because of his wheeling and dealing over a 13-day stretch ahead of July 1, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher made no more than a peep when NHL free agency commenced.

For Joel Farabee, that peep must have sounded like it came through a megaphone.

The Flyers have an opening for a third-line winger. Fletcher viewed other holes as higher priorities for outside solutions. As free agency rolled around, the Flyers had already reshaped their defense, acquired a No. 2 center and brought back Brian Elliott, leaving little cap space left for wingers on the market.

Fletcher then shifted his focus to depth moves and his restricted free agents.

All along, that was the plan — maybe even going back to when the 19-year-old Farabee signed his entry-level contract in March, deciding to turn pro and forgo his final three years of college eligibility. That's when Farabee to the Flyers in 2019-20 at least became a plausible thought.

"There is a wing spot open right now, so obviously that's my goal — to make the team," Farabee said last week at development camp. "I'm pretty realistic — if I'm up and down, if I don't make it this year, I wouldn't be surprised. I've just got to prepare to either play in Philly or in Lehigh, so that's where I'm at right now."

The Flyers have given themselves a security blanket with their bottom six, especially if a youngster is unable to seize a job or struggles after winning one. Fletcher on Monday signed Andy Andreoff and Kurtis Gabriel for added depth. He has created some financial flexibility and also believes the Flyers could benefit from opposing teams in need of relief after spending July 1.

And as Fletcher has noted, things can change from now until training camp. Things can also change during training camp and through the early season.

"I don't foresee another move as we get closer to camp, but there are a lot of teams that are going to have significant challenges this summer," Fletcher said Monday. "I don't think I've ever seen this many teams over the cap or at the cap — that's when you factor in the future signings they have to make here with their RFAs and to fill out their roster. There could be opportunity.

"We have a lot of options. That's what training camp is for — it's an opportunity for players to come in and show that they belong.

"It should be an exciting camp."

Farabee, a skilled goal-scoring winger with length (6-1/175) and speed, will have his chance to excite. He was college hockey's best freshman during 2018-19, leading Boston University in goals (17), points (36), power-play goals (five), shorthanded goals (three), game-winning goals (five), plus-minus (plus-4) and shots (131) over 37 games. With the immediate acclimation and the Flyers' outlook, the 2018 No. 14 overall pick realized it was time for professional hockey.

His position, versatility and strengths all make sense for the Flyers and that precious third-line vacancy, a spot many will be eyeing.

"The whole college experience for me was really good," Farabee said. "I have my education, I can always go back and get [my degree]. If something happened in hockey, I can always do that. As far as the season, I thought I had a really good year. Talking to the staff here, they thought making a jump was a good play. I was all for it.

"I think just the way I play, they said I can kind of fit into pro hockey and play a lot of different roles and stuff like that. I think that was the biggest thing and after having a pretty good year at B.U., it was an easy decision for me."

The Flyers' staff clearly backed his decision, which ultimately came down to Farabee and his family.

"He was at B.U., which is a great program, and if they decided to stay for another season, we would have fully supported it," Fletcher said at development camp. "Joel made the decision that he felt he was ready to turn pro in consultation with people around him. That's a personal decision. 

"He's still a young man that has to get stronger and probably put on a little bit more weight to fully handle the rigors of an 82-game NHL season. But in terms of hockey sense, skill, skating, passion to play the game — he has all of those elements already. It's just going to be a question of time and really maturity. Watching him out here, his talent stands out."

He'll have to win over management and coaches with his readiness. Follow all the signs, though, and there's an open path for Farabee to the Flyers.

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Flyers Talk podcast: What if Flyers jumped right into NHL playoffs?

Flyers Talk podcast: What if Flyers jumped right into NHL playoffs?

On the latest Flyers Talk podcast, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Katie Emmer, Brooke Destra and Jordan Hall discuss the potential of the NHL playoffs and the team's position.

From the possible matchup and how the Flyers are adjusting, let's dive in:

1:20 — Get to know Destra's background!

3:15 — Will the NHL jump right into the playoffs?

9:50 — Let's look at the Flyers' potential matchup

15:25 — Should the Flyers worry about any scenario?

18:30 — Get to know Tanner Laczynski and Wade Allison

25:20 — Fletcher on the Flyers' adjustments during this time

32:20 — Give Chuck Fletcher and Alain Vigneault credit; excitement ahead

37:25 — OK, let's talk some shows!

40:30 — Meet the president of the Gritty committee

Subscribe and rate Flyers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

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Amid coronavirus outbreak, Chuck Fletcher, Flyers push forward in 'different times'

Amid coronavirus outbreak, Chuck Fletcher, Flyers push forward in 'different times'

It was Monday morning, a day after the Flyers were originally scheduled for a huge showdown against the Penguins in Game 79 of their 2019-20 season.

The matchup at the Wells Fargo Center likely would have held considerable playoff implications and a rowdy atmosphere.

Chuck Fletcher was talking about neither as he began a conference call.

"I want to acknowledge the obvious that we’re in different times right now," the Flyers' general manager said.

Indeed.

The Wells Fargo Center was quiet Sunday afternoon. Over 20 days and counting, the Flyers have not played a game. With the NHL out of commission since March 12 because of the coronavirus outbreak, the Flyers' 2019-20 fate is completely up in the air.

When Fletcher said "different times," he meant much more than the simplicity of games being played, won and lost.

I just want to certainly mention that our entire organization, and certainly my family and I, we thank all the people working on the front lines of this pandemic — the doctors, nurses, hospital workers, our first responders and everyone working hard to keep all of our essential services operating for the benefit of all of us. I just wanted to mention that before we started talking about the small piece of the world that I work in which is ice hockey.

As the coronavirus outbreak has had a global impact, the Flyers are like many organizations — they must prepare to move forward as best they can in ways that are allowable.

In regards to the current roster and preparing for the NHL's potential resumption, the players are tasked with staying ready on their own time. These are professional athletes and the Flyers trust them.

“With respect to our players, we haven’t given them any sort of specific direction," Fletcher said. "Most of them have returned to their offseason homes. A lot of them have the ability to work out there. I don’t think anybody is skating obviously at this point, but I think guys are doing the best they can to say in shape and they’re all hopeful at some point in time, we’ll get to a better place in this world and we’ll be able to come back and play hockey."

When the Flyers returned to Philadelphia on March 13 following the postponement of their game the day prior against the Lightning in Tampa Bay, Florida, the focus was on the health and safety of everyone. During the stoppage, Fletcher has communicated with many players, including the Flyers' NHLPA representative James van Riemsdyk and team captain Claude Giroux.

“I think all of us are concerned about everyone’s health and wellbeing and trying to take all the precautions we can," Fletcher said. "I’m not aware of anybody that we had to take any particular precautions with other than once we got back from Tampa Bay, everybody has tried to heed the advice of the NHL, self isolate and do what we can to keep ourselves and our families safe and be smart members of the community and try to stay out of everyone’s way. Everyone is doing the best they can to self isolate and be home with their families.

"At this point, to me the biggest thing is just making sure everybody is safe and their families are safe. If there is anything they need from us to get through this time and stage of where we’re all at, we want to help out any way we can."

On the hockey operations and upper management side, communication remains vital. 

Fletcher is in daily contact with assistant general managers Brent Flahr and Barry Hanrahan. With 2019-20 at a standstill, the Flyers continue to strategize for this summer's NHL draft and offseason in preparation for 2020-21.

The Flyers have seven picks in the draft and 10 players slated to hit free agency — Brian Elliott (unrestricted), Justin Braun (unrestricted), Tyler Pitlick (unrestricted), Derek Grant (unrestricted), Nate Thompson (unrestricted), Robert Hagg (restricted), Philippe Myers (restricted), Nicolas Aube-Kubel (restricted), Nolan Patrick (restricted) and Oskar Lindblom (restricted).

Fletcher said the Flyers have not started negotiations with the team's UFAs or RFAs, as it's still early and much can change prior to the offseason.

"Certainly, whether we start the negotiations or just prepare for them," Fletcher said, "typically this time of the year is when you’re building your files for the summer negotiations and this year isn’t any different.

“I speak to Brent and Barry every day, we have a group text that we keep pretty active in terms of different things that each of us may be doing.

"Brent is working, first and foremost, with our scouting staff, our amateur scouts and they’re working hard on getting their lists ready for the draft, watching video, reviewing reports, having discussions on players — doing things they would typically do at this time of the year with the obvious exception that we’re not able to watch games live right now.

“Barry is working on contracts and cap-related issues going forward. We’ve been able to sign a couple of our unsigned draft choices Tanner Laczynski and Wade Allison recently. Barry has been on the forefront of those conversations.”

As for head coach Alain Vigneault, you can bet he's staying busy.

“He had been working on his golf swing for a while," Fletcher said. "But right now, I think he’s like the rest of us, going through notes and trying to stay safe.

"I speak to A.V. every week, just once a week. I’ve reached out to quite a few of the coaching staff and scouting staff and support staff, try to stay in regular contact with them whether it’s by a phone call or a text or an email.

"We’re all trying to stay in touch and do what we can, but for obvious reasons, a lot of our business has been shut down right now. Most of the things we can focus on are matters going forward, whether that’s the draft or signing some of our players and planning some things in the future.”

Fletcher and the Flyers, of course, would love to finish off their 2019-20 work. If they get a chance to, it would be doubly special.

“When you have time, use it," Fletcher said of the NHL's current spot. "To me, there’s no sense in making any decisions until you have to make them. If we’re able to come back and play, that means that the world is in a much better spot than what it is right now, and I think that would be a tremendous sign."

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