PLYMOUTH, MICH. – Technically, Joel Farabee doesn’t have to be here. The American left winger is a veteran of the world juniors and there’s a decent possibility he’ll be playing with the Philadelphia Flyers when the 2020 tournament rolls around. And yet, true to character, Farabee has been a star and a leader at the World Junior Summer Showcase for Team USA.
“He does so many things well,” said coach Scott Sandelin. “I like the fact that he has come here and been one of our hardest workers and best players. Whether we have him or not (in December), that remains to be seen – but that’s a compliment to him for coming here and being focused on what he’s doing here and showing leadership.”
Farabee won silver with Team USA at the 2019 edition of the world juniors and is one of a number of veterans who played for both that squad and USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program. The others are Spencer Knight (FLA), K’Andre Miller (NYR), Oliver Wahlstrom (NYI) and Mattias Samuelsson (BUF).
Setting the pace at this camp in Michigan was important for Farabee, who signed his pro contract with the Flyers after one year at Boston University. The tenacious left winger had 36 points in 37 games for the Terriers this past season, so it’s fair to say he had a pretty good sense for the college game. Coming from the NTDP really helped.
“It was a really good transition,” Farabee said. “Our U18 year we play a lot of college games, so you almost feel like a sophomore heading into your freshman year. Having that feel for the game was really good for me. After world juniors, I took off in the second half and it was a really good year. I had fun at B.U.”
A native of small-town Cicero in central New York state, Farabee had a ball living in big-city Boston, but the temptation to sign with Philadelphia proved too great to keep him up there (plus he still didn’t have a major at the time; he was in the college of general studies as a freshman).
“I thought I had a really good year and after talking with the Flyers staff, they thought making the jump would be a good play,” he said. “If I worked hard and did what I needed to do, I could make a spot on the team. That’s my focus right now.”
While the Flyers have a pretty good depth chart at forward right now, there is certainly a possibility Farabee can elbow his way onto the opening night roster, assuming he has a good camp. If not, there’s always the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms, where he can still play against men and learn the pro lifestyle. Listed at six-foot, 163 pounds, Farabee needs to add some more bulk this summer, but the snarl that Philly fans love is already there: the kid freely throws his body around on the ice and is always the motor on whatever line he’s on.
“I’ve never really been the biggest guy; I’ve always been undersized, underweight,” he said. “But playing really fast, I tend to get pretty mad out there, so I play pretty physical even though I’m not the biggest guy. In my draft year, I thought I compared to Jake Guentzel. We’re not the biggest guys, but we create plays.”
While Flyers fans may not want to think of a prolific Pittsburgh Penguin in this conversation, they’ll definitely love Farabee and he’s been impressed by the dedication of the Philadelphia faithful himself.
“It’s definitely awesome, especially at development camp,” he said. “You get a bunch of fans coming out to watch practice, which is crazy to think about. I love being part of the Flyers organization.”
And they’re going to love having him.
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