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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