After a preseason in which Joel Farabee did just about everything right except score a goal, he’s two-for-two in the American Hockey League. But it’s not just his goals that have been impressive. Despite missing the season opener while he was overseas with the Flyers, there’s a case to be made that Farabee has been the Phantoms’ most impactful forward through the first three games of the season.
The former Boston University standout made his pro debut last Friday, and in the early stages of the second period would go on to score one of the prettier goals that you’ll see in a given season.
The play began with Greg Carey disrupting what would have been a dangerous scoring opportunity from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton forward Justin Almeida, causing the puck to bounce right to Philippe Myers. Recognizing that defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph had just pinched deep into the offensive zone, Farabee rushed up the middle of the ice in the hopes of breaking free. Joseph matches him stride for stride, but after Myers makes an incredible tape-to-tape pass, Farabee not only pulls off a windmill deke, but gets goaltender Casey DeSmith to bite on a fake shot before sliding the puck into the back of the net.
Oh Joel...— LehighValleyPhantoms (@LVPhantoms) October 12, 2019
still my heart... pic.twitter.com/ONDvXcuCOg
With that kind of skill it’s no surprise that he leads the team in individual scoring chances at 5-on-5 with six, and is tied for the team lead in high danger scoring chances with three. Among Phantoms forwards only German Rubtsov has taken as many shot as Farabee has at 5-on-5, and he played in all three contests.
He was also a major contributor to the Phantoms’ transition game through his first two appearances. Per Maddie Campbell’s tracked data, Farabee entered the offensive zone with control ten times, failing on zero of his attempts. He’s also 12-for-12 in defensive zone exits, seven with control, making him one of just three Phantoms to have zero fails to their name, the other two being Kyle Criscuolo and Mikhail Vorobyev.
And while his second professional goal was the main highlight from Saturday’s contest with the Hershey Bears, there were two other plays in particular that stood out for different reasons.
The first of which came at the 13:48 mark of the third period when Farabee went 1-on-3 and still managed to get a shot off from a dangerous location.
The fact that he even attempted to make a play here instead of dumping the puck in is one thing, but it’s incredibly impressive that he was actually able to turn that rush into a quality chance. Farabee is always in attack mode offensively, and it was no different here. As the game reached overtime, Farabee’s third big play had to do with his hustle without the puck.
Following an end-to-end rush chance that would almost end the game, Myers would lose the puck to Hershey forward Axel Jonsson-Fjällby after an ill-advised pass from Cal O’Reilly. Jonsson-Fjällby was off to the races with nobody standing between him and goaltender J.F. Berube, but Farabee, who started about two strides behind, was able to get just close enough to disrupt his chance and force the shot wide.
So does any of this mean that Farabee is definitely NHL ready right now? No, not exactly. While he could very likely at least hold his own, and maybe even already be good, at the top level, Farabee continuing to play big minutes with the Phantoms is probably more beneficial in the early going than playing third or fourth line minutes with the Flyers. Things change though, and if he continues to play this well, his stay in Lehigh Valley might just be a short one.
It’s only been two games, but Farabee has already put on display why he was the 14th overall pick just two Summers ago. He’s going to be a fun one to follow whether it be now with the Phantoms, or later with the Flyers.
Phantoms shot data can be found on Phancy Stats.