Flyers

USNTDP coach John Wroblewski says don't be surprised if Joel Farabee is in Flyers' 2019-20 opening night lineup

USNTDP coach John Wroblewski says don't be surprised if Joel Farabee is in Flyers' 2019-20 opening night lineup

There's not much to dislike about Joel Farabee.

NHL talent evaluators would be hard-pressed to find holes in his game when Farabee was coming up through the U.S. national team development program.

The speed, skill, precociousness, scoring acumen — all accentuated by a motor that John Wroblewski watched up close as one of Farabee's coaches in the USNTDP.

"You can just tell from the way that he plays that you're getting an unbelievable kid who works his butt off every shift and isn't going to go away," the U.S. under-18 head coach said last week in a phone interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia. "He just won't be denied. There was never a question from scouts as to any of that."

Those attributes are why Farabee has proven to be a quick climber. As a 17-year-old, he was a key piece to Wroblewski's 2017 U-18 IIHF World Junior Championship team that captured gold. Then, with Boston University this season, Farabee led the Terriers in goals and points over 37 games. Among the country's freshmen, his 17 markers were tied for second and his 36 points finished third.

Nine months after being drafted by the Flyers 14th overall, he is already turning pro. 

The American Hockey League would be Farabee's next rung on the ladder.

Or maybe not.

"If he needs some seasoning in Lehigh, that happens with a lot of really strong prospects, but it also wouldn't surprise me when the Flyers have him in their opening night lineup next October," Wroblewski said. "He gets on the ice and coaches love him. He does so many things and so quickly to gain the coach's trust. The puck advances when he's out there and his skill set is sneaky. … It won't be long in the American League if he does start there.

"I would be amazed if he wasn't in the NHL full-time by the end of next year."


(Christina Daly/NBC Sports Philadelphia)

When 2019 training camp rolls around in September, the 19-year-old goal-scoring winger will be aiming for the Flyers after signing his entry-level contract last week.

The Flyers are in search for help. They're finishing another season without playoff hockey and haven't won a series since 2012. Since the start of the 2014-15 season, they're 20th in the NHL with 2.74 goals per game. They've needed more forward depth and players with a shoot-first, goal-scoring mentality.

A rising Farabee is turning into an internal option for Chuck Fletcher, who will soon be entering his first offseason as Flyers general manager.

"He has a versatile skill set — he's got a speed game, he's gritty and he's skilled. Really a perfect player to scale up and down a lineup," Wroblewski said. "When the Flyers go to training camp and when he gets the call to play in the NHL, it might start off as a fourth-line player but he can scale down in your lineup and play that fourth-line role or he can move up into the middle lines and earn a coach's trust, that he's good enough to play on a top line, too.

"The puck just follows him and when he wants to advance it, it goes the direction he wants it to go in. His game is loud and he's electric and he's got a great stick, as well. He's a very unique prospect."

With any teenage prospect, a roadblock to the NHL can be size. Farabee is 6-foot-1, 170 pounds, and his wiriness didn't hold him back at the Division I level.

"If he has a slight frame, that could be a knock on him but he's hockey strong," Wroblewski said. "That's kind of a force that is a little bit misunderstood sometimes by people outside the game. You can have a slight frame, and as long as you've got that unbelievable balance and skating ability on your edges, it doesn't affect you to be light."

Especially when you're climbing like Farabee.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

If Alain Vigneault can't work his magic with Flyers' roster, pressure mounts for Chuck Fletcher

If Alain Vigneault can't work his magic with Flyers' roster, pressure mounts for Chuck Fletcher

Chuck Fletcher was brought in because things weren't going well enough and quickly enough for the Flyers.

The predicament he inherited required eventual change.

After all, sitting alongside team president Paul Holmgren back in November, Comcast Spectacor chairman and CEO Dave Scott said the Flyers were eyeing a general manager with a "bias for action," among other qualities.

With time and evaluation, Fletcher has begun providing the desired action.

A new head coach is on board, bringing extensive experience and outside perspective, while two new assistants with strong pedigrees have been hired.

But perhaps the most influential part in shifting the Flyers' course has remained mostly intact: the roster. That could drastically change this upcoming offseason with free agency and potential trades. However, Fletcher, facing his first offseason as the Flyers' GM, doesn't see an exodus needed with the current roster — or at least not yet.

"The Flyers are a great opportunity. You guys are in this market, for me coming in from the outside, I know when Paul Holmgren approached me about being the general manager of the Flyers, I'm like, 'Wow.' This is a premium job in the National Hockey League and we're set up where we should have an opportunity to get better quickly," Fletcher said April 18. "I know we need more good players, but we have a lot of good players. It's not like you have to gut this thing — we have cap space, we have picks. We have really good staff, really good staff. On the scouting and management side, I've added one person, I haven't subtracted anything. There's a good group here and we have the ability to get better quickly if we all do our job."

Therein lies a poignant and undeniable pressure on Fletcher in Year 1 with the Flyers under Alain Vigneault's watch.

Aside from Wayne Simmonds, who became an inevitable piece to move given the circumstances, the Flyers' core has survived. So, too, has the overall makeup of the roster.

Fletcher, Vigneault and the Flyers believe this team can win with a refined system and different guidance. They don't exactly see a team that has missed the playoffs every other season since 2012-13, a stretch consisting of three first-round exits.

Will Fletcher add this summer? Of course — the ability to do so is one of the reasons why Vigneault found the Flyers as an attractive destination. When Fletcher was hiring Vigneault, the two established a list of areas in which the Flyers can improve.

"We're looking at some options and if we can put the right things in place," Vigneault said at his introduction, "it's going to be a lot of fun."

Significant subtraction was not featured on the list.

"There's some solid youth with a lot of upside here that is coming into its own," Vigneault said. "There's great goaltending, being one of those youth pieces. There's a solid core group that, in my mind, needs the right direction. And you've got the combination, also, of some solid veteran players that have been in the league a few years, that can still contribute at a high level in this league. … After discussing it with a lot of people that I respect their opinion in the NHL, I feel that the Flyers are a very good team that with the proper direction, proper mindset, proper culture and people working together, will be a very good team in the near future."

That's why Year 1 will be so telling.

Vigneault is a coach with a tremendous track record of winning during his first season on the job. He did so at three separate stops (see story). Michel Therrien has 38 postseason victories under his belt as a head coach and took a team to the Stanley Cup Final. Mike Yeo owns three playoff series victories as a head coach and has a ring as an assistant.

If this group can't produce the results with the Flyers' roster, Fletcher will have to take a longer, much more serious look at the players in place and make his hardest decisions yet.

At that point, it may be the only action left.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule, live stream: More drama ahead for Sharks-Blues Western Conference Final?

usa_brayden_schenn_blues.jpg
USA Today Images

2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule, live stream: More drama ahead for Sharks-Blues Western Conference Final?

There has been a ton of drama only three games into the Western Conference Final between the Sharks and Blues.

Game 3 was won by the Sharks, 5-4, in overtime, but not without controversy. San Jose may have gotten away with a hand pass on the game-winning goal.

The series will shift one way or the other Friday night with Game 4.

Below is the schedule for Day 37 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. You can watch the entire playoffs on the networks of NBC. 

San Jose Sharks at St. Louis Blues (SJS 2-1)
Game 4, Western Conference Final
8 p.m. ET | TV: NBCSN | Live stream here