Flyers prospects

Joel Farabee wins 2019 Tim Taylor Award as college hockey's Rookie of the Year

Joel Farabee wins 2019 Tim Taylor Award as college hockey's Rookie of the Year

Joel Farabee is turning pro in 2019-20.

He'll take an impressive accolade with him to finish off his one-and-done college career.

The Flyers' prospect was named the 2019 Tim Taylor Award winner for national Rookie of the Year.

Among the nation's freshmen, Farabee finished tied for second in goals (17) and third in points (36). He led Boston University in goals, points, power-play goals (five), shorthanded goals (three), game-winning goals (five), plus-minus (plus-4) and shots (131).

"I expected him to step right in," U.S. under-18 head coach John Wroblewski said this month in a phone interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia (see story). "You could see his impact right away for us when he was a U-17 player and got called up as a U-18, you knew that he was a special prospect and the team that got him would be really lucky."

The Flyers selected the goal-scoring winger 14th overall in the 2018 draft. Farabee will open next season with either the Flyers or AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley, the latter being more likely.

"We're going to actively look outside to see if we can find a couple people to add to make this team stronger," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said Monday. "I hope this team gets to be a harder team to make as we continue to get deeper and add players. Obviously, of course somebody can come in and make the team, but they're going to have to earn it. We're not looking to just put players on the team. 

"I think the American League is a great developmental league. I think it's an important place for most players to spend some time. Having said that, I don't like cutting players in April. There are some talented kids coming out of junior, coming out of college. We'll let their play determine how they do."

Farabee wasn't the only Flyers prospect to have a big freshman season. Noah Cates, a 2017 fifth-round pick, has 23 points (nine goals, 14 assists) in 39 games for the University of Minnesota Duluth, which plays Massachusetts Saturday night in the national championship.

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Mark Friedman has Flyers' attention as new regime looks to 2019-20

Mark Friedman has Flyers' attention as new regime looks to 2019-20

VOORHEES, N.J. — At first, Mark Friedman thought he was in the doghouse.

He met with Phantoms head coach Kerry Huffman on Friday.

"Called me into the coach's office and was acting all pissed off at me," Friedman said. "Then he was like, 'No, I'm just kidding, you got called up. Go enjoy.'"

And show general manager Chuck Fletcher what you're all about.

Game 82 has arrived Saturday night for the 2018-19 Flyers and it will be Game 1 of Friedman's NHL career. The Flyers are rewarding the 23-year-old defenseman for his season-long progress with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley by giving him a look at the NHL before 2019 training camp rolls around in September.

It's also an opportunity for the Flyers to see Friedman, a 5-foot-11, 185-pounder who is quick on his feet and plays with purpose. The Flyers, limping to the finish line, could use a guy with something to play for against the Hurricanes (7 p.m./NBCSP).

"I've met Chuck a couple times down in Lehigh," Friedman said Saturday after an optional morning skate. "It's just rewarding for me to come here and finish the year with the Flyers and see where I end up next year."

Friedman was a 2014 third-round pick of a previous regime — Ron Hextall and Chris Pryor, the former GM and assistant GM, respectively, who were relieved of their duties in November. In his second season with the Phantoms, Friedman has made noticeable strides over 71 games.

"He's made a ton of progress since Year 1," Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon said.

Gordon coached Friedman last season and parts of this season as the head coach of Lehigh Valley.

"His foot speed, quickness, for his size, he can play very physical," Gordon said of Friedman's strengths. "He has a tendency to get under the opponents' skin. He always seems to be drawing penalties. He does have the ability to get up into the play. When he's using his feet, that's when he's playing at his best.

"He's a guy that can play with a lot of pace, he plays physical and he has to — obviously, he's not a big guy like some of our defensemen. For him to take up space, he's got to do it with his feet and his head. That's what we need to see him do here."

In 2019-20, the Flyers will have a crowded defense, a group growing in youthfulness. With Philippe Myers and Samuel Morin in the picture, that's eight defensemen and six spots in the lineup.

Things can change between now and 2019 camp, but Friedman's game has been recognized.

"I'm not necessarily a force offensively, but I like to consider myself as a good two-way defenseman and I feel like I've definitely contributed in both areas," he said.

"I'm not the biggest guy, but I definitely consider myself pretty strong. If a hit's there, I'd like to blow a guy up but obviously not hurt him."

Ever since he was drafted, Friedman always stood out in development camps because of his max-effort style.

"I'm a guy that puts 110 percent into everything I do, especially on the ice," he said. "I just like to compete in everything, whether it's off the ice, on the ice, no matter what it is. Hard work paid off."

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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.

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