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Flyers prospects at the World Junior Summer Showcase: The Americans

The finale! So I put my hands up, they’re playing my song...

Heather Barry ©

On Monday we chatted about Team Canada, on Tuesday it was all about Team Sweden, and now in our final installment, it’s finally time to take a look at the Americans!

Joel Farabee

Age: 18 (2/25/2000)
Height: 6’0
Weight: 168 lbs
Position: Left wing
Handedness: Left
Drafted: 1st round draft pick in 2018, 14th overall
Statistics: 5 games, 3 goals, 2 assists, 4 penalty minutes

Brad: Joel “The Process” Farabee. What a showing he had, huh? He was super impressive in all areas of the game.

Maddie: What a showing, indeed. I think what was funniest (and most validating) to me was to see how the commentators’ narrative sort of evolved over the run of games. At the start, it was all “Jack Hughes this, Jack Hughes that,” and while that’s deserved, because the kid is just unreal, it was really cool to hear how, by the end of the tournament, they hard turned to, you know, actually pry their attentions away from Hughes and give Farabee a bunch of praise for just how well he was playing.

B: For sure, those two were a dynamic duo and it wasn’t like Farabee was just a passenger. What really stood out to me was his vision and patience with the puck. Sure, we all saw his shot and knew that was a strength of his already, but getting to watch him read plays and pass the puck was a delight. It just really gives you a full picture of his game that you really can’t get just from watching highlight packages.

M: Totally. It’s definitely reassuring. I mean, there’s no way (barring catastrophe) that he busts at the NHL, purely because of how smart he is.

B: That’s certainly the vibe I got as well. I think we learned that he has a very high floor to go a long with the high ceiling that we already knew about.

As far as on-ice vision goes, there was one moment that stood out in particular to me when

M: And I think what makes his all-around performance even more impressive is that fact that he looked this good all while playing a ton—top line minutes, power play time, for five games.

B: Absolutely! A lot of hockey in a very short period of time. Despite all of that, he continued to make an impact on just about every shift, usually due to him getting in on the forecheck. I think that might have been the biggest thing I learned about him and his game during the showcase.

No defenseman will ever have an easy breakout if Farabee is on the ice.

M: No they will not!

B: If nothing else, I think Farabee opened up everyone’s eyes. There was already plenty of hype surrounding him prior to the draft and once the Flyers picked him, but man he looked GOOD in these games. He’s a lot of fun to watch.

M: I’m glad you used that word to describe him, because it’s actually exactly how I was feeling watching him through a lot of this tournament. He’s just fun. Like I know we all want to be watching Jack Hughes at all times, because he’s super good, but at the same time there were shifts where I just couldn’t look away from what Farabee was doing. And that feels like a pretty clear mark in his favor.

Jay O’Brien

Age: 18 (11/4/1999)
Height: 6’0
Weight: 175 lbs
Position: Center
Handedness: Right
Drafted: 1st round draft pick in 2018, 19th overall
Statistics: 4 games played, 2 goals, 2 assists, 4 penalty minutes

Maddie: I would just like to start things off on this section by saying: holy smokes.

Brad: Holy smokes is correct. O’Brien looked the part of a first round pick, that’s for sure.

M: Absolutely.

So, I’ve been proved wrong. Or something. I left O’Brien off my Top 25 Under 25 list (just barely!) because I still had a lot of questions about him. I trust the Flyers’ scouts, and he had a pretty solid development camp, but I still felt like I needed to see more out of him. He’d only played against high schoolers before. I needed to see what he would look like at the next level before I got too excited. And, guess what, he did really well. And I am excited.

B: Remember everyone, Maddie was wrong.

M: Hold onto this moment. It’ll never happen again. Thanks.

B: As you said, this was the first time that he played against this level of competition, and he stood out extremely positively. He didn’t look out of place at all.

M: Not in the slightest. In fact, he was kind of running the show, at times.

I don’t have a segue here, not really, but can we talk about this GOAL. Because... oh my god. Inject it straight into my veins.

B: That stutter stop, the look-off, the shot. Whew.

M: *fanning myself* That’s the good stuff.

B: Such a perfectly played odd-man situation right there. Sell the pass, beat the goalie with your shot.

And even his second goal, while not as pretty as his first, showed just how elusive he can be. None of the five Canadians on the ice notice him until the puck is on his stick - and by then it’s too late.

M: Really great stuff. I think Farabee’s gotten a lot of praise for how deceptive his shot and general play can be, but it seem O’Brien isn’t lagging too far behind in that category, either.

And I know we’re going to be talking a lot here about the skill he showed (spoiler: it’s a lot!) but I also want to bring up one of my favorite things we learned about him in this tournament: he’s a little bit feisty. Between mixing it up at the end of a couple of shifts, and then absolutely putting down a Penguins prospect (Calen Addison), he showed a little bit of edge to his game, and I for one am here for it.

B: Oh yeah, was very In The Game physically. He had a few hits of his own and got hit a few times, one in particular that stood out was when Jet Woo tagged him. That moment wasn’t fun to watch.

M: Jet Woo is on notice. But anyway, we talked about skill, now let’s talk about context. We saw O’Brien playing in all situations and looking solid in all situations, and that’s not too shabby.

B: Yeah! I think it’s super interesting that he played the point on the power play. Having never seen him play before I don’t know if this is a common thing for him or not, but either way he looked pretty comfortable there, at least to me.

M: And it’s interesting because I feel like more often we see a defenseman in that spot, so it’s a neat reversal, to see him playing that role. Maybe he doesn’t stay there as he moves up and on to play at other levels, but it’s a nice skill to have in the tool belt.

Noah Cates (who we just recently ranked 25th overall in our top 25 under 25 series)

Age: 19 (2/5/1999)
Height: 6’1
Weight: 165 lbs
Position: Left wing
Handedness: Left
Drafted: 5th round draft pick in 2017, 137th overall
Statistics: 5 games played, 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 penalty minutes

Maddie: I feel like Cates is another one like Olle Lycksell who’s been sort of unfairly flying under the radar, and, like Lycksell, I’m super glad he had a good tournament, because now he’s getting more attention. Which he deserves.

Brad: I agree, those two are certainly in similar situations within the organization. I’ll always have a soft spot for Cates, as he was someone I had actually read about before the Flyers drafted him, leading to one of those rare moments where you actually know about your team’s late round draft pick at the time the pick is made.

But really I don’t think anyone, myself included, saw this strong of a Summer Showcase coming from him.

M: Hey, everybody, listen here! Brad was wrong too!

Sorry. Moving on.

Cates is a case kind of like O’Brien for me, in that he had only been playing in high school before he was drafted, so he was a sort of under the radar player, as well. So seeing him be able to elevate his game at the next level was super exciting.

B: And elevate he did. I mean, are there even any words to say about his goal?

Him having the confidence (and ability!) to pull that off in a USA versus Canada game - mini Summer tournament or not - is just fantastic to see. His all around game was super impressive, but that goal just put the cherry on top.

M: Man, that was just incredible. I could loop that forever.

B: I was pretty surprised with the amount of special teams time he got. Penalty kill, sure, that was expected. But he also wound up on Team USA’s second power play unit! He primarily played the left side of the ice, where Claude Giroux runs the Flyers’ power play, and looked pretty good there. I remember seeing him set up a few one timers from there.

M: I think the power play time thing is what surprised me the most, too. They had him playing kind of down in the lineup for a lot of the tournament, but it seems like they still had enough trust in his offensive game to give him the bump to PP2. And it worked out, because he looked good, like you said!

B: The more ice time the better! Hopefully he has a strong enough start to his season to make his way onto the World Juniors roster.

All bio information courtesy of USAHockey and all tournament statistics courtesy of HockeyCanada