BOSTON — Joel Farabee took time out of his hectic college schedule of practice, studying and commuting to catch the first half of the Flyers-Bruins game while meeting general manager Chuck Fletcher for the first time.
There are still adjustments for the 18-year-old Boston University freshman to living in the big city. Navigating around Boston's quirky streets is a challenge, rush hour traffic being the reason he didn't arrive at TD Garden until the opening faceoff.
However, Farabee, who will turn 19 later this month, was long gone before the second period ended. There was no time to stick around and meet some of his future teammates with a game against No. 2-ranked UMass on Friday night.
Ask Farabee when he sees himself wearing orange and black and the answer is typically in stride with any other first-round selection.
I’d like to get there as soon as possible. I think that would be what everybody would say. I’m just taking it day-by-day right now and focusing on what I need to do to get to this level. Once the season ends, we’ll see what happens if I go back, I’m not really sure yet.
If you’re looking for a comparable player to measure Farabee’s development, James van Riemsdyk is the first guy that comes to mind.
The similarities have been striking. Both athletes went through the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP), and then respectively, took their careers to Hockey East, with van Riemsdyk spending two seasons at University of New Hampshire. Farabee’s interview even sounds a lot like van Riemsdyk when he speaks.
As expected, following a slow start, Farabee has adjusted almost seamlessly — his game has grown and so has he.
Listed at 6-foot-1, 170 pounds, he’s probably more in the 180-pound range now as he continues to increase his size and strength by adding muscle. Farabee has also put together a recent 10-game stretch scoring five goals and added eight assists. By the end of the season, he should be the Terriers' leading scorer.
“It’s going really well,” Farabee said. “It’s nice to get a little change of pace from the national program, and go to school and be in Boston. Obviously, school comes first there, but hockey is a pretty close second. We’re pretty focused on what we need to do. I don’t get caught up in being a college athlete.”
Looking over the class selection at BU, one might expect a college athlete to register for Gangster Films (yes, that’s actually a class), but Farabee prefers his course in sports psychology. After all, it’s just another step in his overall development.
“A lot of it is being coachable and stuff like that,” Farabee said. “That’s been the first couple of classes and looking at yourself, how good of a person you are, and what you can do to make strides in your everyday life.”
Farabee’s strides are now turning into leaps.
It helped to be surrounded with high-caliber talent at the USNTDP, where five players were selected in the first 41 picks of the 2018 NHL draft, and everything about Farabee suggests he’s the complete player — his speed, his skill, his leadership and a commitment to being an all-around player.
van Riemsdyk spent two seasons playing collegiately, before joining the Phantoms briefly at the end of his sophomore season. The following year he joined the Flyers full-time at the age of 21.
By that standard, if you’re wondering when Farabee could join the likes of Carter Hart, Ivan Provorov and Nolan Patrick, the 2020-21 campaign is one to target.
Everything about Farabee suggests he’ll be more than ready.
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