With Travis Konecny signing a six-year deal Monday, mega-prospect Joel Farabee – who has been spending time on the top line in training camp – will likely be back in the crowded battle for the third-line right-wing spot.
Morgan Frost (when healthy), another rookie with impressive credentials, and German Rubtsov are also among a huge contingent of candidates.
“People say that we make the decisions,” new coach Alain Vigneault said before the exhibition game Monday about coaches and management filling out their rosters, “but we really don’t make the decisions. The players make the decisions for us by how they play.”
Though jittery in his first few shifts, Farabee passed his first test to show he could play at the NHL level. Many more tests are needed. The 19-year-old rookie made some slick passes, controlled the puck, was active on the forecheck, and played solid defense in the Flyers’ 3-1 loss to the visiting Islanders.
Vigneault said he has seen Farabee play better, “but I thought some of that had to do with the opposition. I like that kid. I like his skill level. I like that he can play in tight. I think we have a good young player there.”
A young player knocking on the NHL door.
“As camp moves forward, competition is going to get better, and it’s going to get more demanding on everybody,” Vigneault said.
In the 2018 draft, when the Flyers selected Farabee with the 14th overall selection, the speedy winger said he always wanted to play for the Orange and Black. His father was from Philadelphia and Joel Farabee grew up rooting for all the city’s sports team, especially the Flyers.
So, yes, it was a bit emotional for him to play at the Wells Fargo Center for the first time.
A cerebral 200-foot player with good speed and hands, Farabee played right wing on a line with rookie left winger Isaac Ratcliffe and Cal O’Reilly, a 13-year pro and a five-time AHL All-Star.
Frost missed the game with a minor groin injury and is listed as day to day, and O’Reilly, who turns 33 later this month, took his spot.
O’Reilly likes Farabee’s game.
“He has great skill,” said O’Reilly, who appears ticketed to the AHL’s Phantoms. “He has speed, smarts. He’s going to be a heck of a player.”
The Flyers will have six more exhibitions games, and Farabee will probably play in at least four of them.
“I’m pretty optimistic. I think I’m ready for the challenge,” said Farabee, named the nation’s top first-year NCAA player while at Boston University last season. “I think one of my strengths is I can play all different kinds of roles. I think can play top-six and I can also play bottom-six, and that really helps me out.”
Farabee said there wasn’t as much time and space as he had in last week’s rookie game in Allentown. “I thought every time I touched the puck, there were three guys on me," he said, “so I just [need to be] finding ways to hold onto the puck a bit more and make some plays."