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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