Joel Farabee

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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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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Flyers weekly observations: A Joel Farabee story, Scott Gordon's job, more

Flyers weekly observations: A Joel Farabee story, Scott Gordon's job, more

The Flyers endured a rough week, going 1-3-0 to unofficially kick themselves out of the playoff chase.

From Jan. 14 to March 11, the Flyers were neck and neck with the Lightning as both teams went an identical 18-4-2 for a league-most 38 points. The Flyers even scored nine more goals than Tampa Bay during that stretch.

But it looks like they've run out of gas and the focus is shifting to 2019-20.

Let's get into that and more with our latest weekly observations:

• There should be excitement over Joel Farabee.

He just seems like a kid that fits this city.

The No. 14 overall pick in the 2018 draft signed his entry-level contract with the Flyers on Monday after a superb freshman season at Boston University (see story). That means he will turn pro in 2019-20, most likely with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

But Farabee has been a quick riser, so don't put a timeline on his climb to the Flyers.

The 19-year-old is a strategic goal-scoring winger, utilizing his smarts and skill to beat goalies in a variety of ways.

He's also a hard-worker.

A moment that stuck out from development camp last summer was when he asked for extra instruction following an afternoon session. After getting some tips, he shook the coach's hand and thanked him. It was Scott Gordon, now the Flyers' interim head coach.


"I've got to learn a lot to make it to the next level," Farabee said after that practice, "so I'm just trying to get as much information as I can to be a better player."

• Speaking of Gordon, he has gone 24-17-4 as interim head coach after being summoned from the Phantoms to take over for Dave Hakstol, who was fired following a 12-15-4 start.

On the day Hakstol was relieved of his duties, general manager Chuck Fletcher made it clear Gordon was a candidate for the head coaching gig next season.

Gordon has done a good job. His players have responded well to his messages, he's gotten the best out of the younger pieces and the team became relevant in the postseason race.

We'll have to wait and see what it earns him. A new GM typically likes to hire his own guy, but there's no doubt Gordon has impressed to firmly put his name in the discussion.

He'll have tough decisions over the final six games of the regular season. Does he play Samuel Morin and Cam Talbot for the sake of giving them some looks or does he continue to employ his best possible lineup to win games? The latter will only help his case for where he lands in 2019-20.

• Jakub Voracek, always refreshingly honest, was a tough critic when talking to reporters following Sunday's 3-1 loss to the Capitals:

I felt like in that push we had, we had a good push, but unfortunately every time we got close to three points, five points, and then we played those big teams in front of us, those four-point games, we choked.

I don't want to take anything out of this season, to be honest.

We have to have a good look in the mirror.

It felt like the Flyers needed a clean slate all season. They were able to somewhat reset with a new head coach, but they had already dug too deep of a hole.

Next season, they should have all sorts of motivation. Expectations certainly won't be lowering. After all, the Flyers haven't missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons since the 1992-93 and 1993-94 campaigns.

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