Joel Farabee

Predictions for who wins Flyers' 3rd-line roster spot in 2019-20

Predictions for who wins Flyers' 3rd-line roster spot in 2019-20

Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jordan Hall and Brooke Destra.

The topic: Predicting who wins the Flyers' third-line winger job.

Hall

It's Aug. 3 and a lot can change from now until the Oct. 4 season opener in Prague, Czech Republic. Training camp and preseason will dictate who wins the third-line winger job.

Last season, the Flyers had an opening at third-line center. Prospect Mikhail Vorobyev was so good during the preseason that he won the job outright. Seven games and four healthy scratches into the regular season, he was sent to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley. Yes, things can change drastically and quickly in the NHL.

There's a big group of players vying to fill the Flyers' third-line vacancy. The competition should feature Vorobyev, Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost, Isaac Ratcliffe, German Rubtsov, Carsen Twarynski, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Andy Andreoff, Kurtis Gabriel and Chris Stewart.

The 21-year-old Rubtsov is a sleeper because of his NHL size, positional versatility and defensive principles that all play well in a bottom-six role.

"Our coaches, they like a lot of things that he brings," Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr said in June.

Right now, though, my gut tells me Farabee will earn the gig, despite the 19-year-old having no pro experience and coming off just one year of college hockey. The 2018 first-round pick fits what the Flyers should want out of a third-line winger. He's smart, he's situational, he's skilled, he's quick, he scores and he's stronger than what some may think about the 6-foot-1, 175-pounder. 

If there are bumps along the road, the Flyers have insurance plans.

But the new regime wants this team to allow fewer goals, be tougher to play against and have improved scoring depth. Farabee's strengths can help in those areas. Plenty of hockey people have said that, too.

Destra

Since Flyers development camp wrapped in late June, there’s been one player who has stood out among the rest and should be listed on the roster for the season opener in the Czech Republic.

Joel Farabee.

He left his college career behind with just one season at Boston University under his belt by signing his entry-level contract in March. During his freshman season, he played 37 games and ended with 36 points (17 goals, 19 assists).

When watching him in drills alongside the many other prospects in the system, Farabee looked like he was on a different wavelength — a man among boys when it came to his overall game.

If the only concern is his weight heading into training camp come September, it shouldn’t restrict him from getting a serious look for the open slot. Since this is the position he most often plays and is most comfortable with, he may have an easier time transitioning to pro than other current prospects that may get a look, as well.

As the offseason continues, the buzz around Farabee has been everywhere, especially with his performance in the 2019 World Junior Summer Showcase (see story).

A possible third line could consist of players all 23 years old or younger (Oskar Lindblom-Nolan Patrick-Farabee). Now, while that is a young line, the budding chemistry of Lindblom and Patrick in addition to Farabee’s skill set could make up one of the more solid bottom-six lines around the league.

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Joel Farabee showing highlight-reel stuff in 2019 World Junior Summer Showcase, but what must he show Flyers?

Joel Farabee showing highlight-reel stuff in 2019 World Junior Summer Showcase, but what must he show Flyers?

Joel Farabee is fun to watch and there's a discernible pro readiness to his game — hence, why the 19-year-old is turning pro in 2019-20 after one year at Boston University.

Along the wing, Farabee is loaded with skill, speed and smarts. He's a prolific goal-scorer who plays hard and in a lot of situations. These are reasons why Farabee is considered by many to be the Flyers' top prospect and will push for a roster spot during the fall (see story).

"In terms of hockey sense, skill, skating, passion to play the game — he has all of those elements already," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said in June. "It's just going to be a question of time and really maturity."

Before the fall comes, Farabee is putting his strengths on display in the 2019 World Junior Summer Showcase. Through two games with the U.S., Farabee has a pair of goals, an assist and a plus-3 rating.

On one of his goals in USA Blue's 7-1 win over Sweden last weekend, Farabee made his ability abundantly clear (as you can see in the video above).

His other marker was just as impressive. Farabee is a strategic and accurate goal-scorer. Former Flyers general manager Ron Hextall raved about Farabee's deception last summer. You can see some of it here with his hands.

So what does Farabee need to do in order to crack the Flyers' roster and win a third-line job? Prove he's ready to play in all zones, against NHL size, on a nightly basis.

"Probably the down-low game," he said at development camp. "It's pretty grindy in the [AHL] and the NHL, so you've got to be able to withstand an 82-game season, plus. I think that's the biggest thing right now."

The Flyers clearly want to see Farabee's thinner build not be a major factor or hindrance. There's a chance it may not matter if he's doing everything else well — which he often does.

"You watch a Joel Farabee, you watch the way he thinks the game, especially the small area hockey games out there — he's a guy that I can imagine you put him with NHL players, he can play," Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr said in June. "Whether he's physically ready or mentally ready to handle the grind of an NHL season, I'm not sure. I'm not sure that's realistic."

In late June, Farabee said he was 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, and by the end of his career, would like to be in the 185-190 range.

If he has a slight frame, that could be a knock on him but he's hockey strong. 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.

- U.S. national team development program coach John Wroblewski (see story)

Farabee will be worth watching in training camp. As you can see, he's also worth watching right now in the summer showcase, along with Flyers prospects Bobby Brink (USA), Cam York (USA) and Adam Ginning (Sweden). USA plays today at 4 p.m. against Canada on HockeyTV. The remainder of the showcase can be watched on NHL Network

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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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