It is without a doubt common knowledge that Joel Farabee has exceeded expectations, given his status as a 19 year-old rookie. Though, for various reasons, he did not make the Flyers’ roster out of training camp, Farabee was quickly called up to the NHL seven games into the season. From that point on, Farabee has been a mainstay on the Flyers’ roster, though he has played with a variety of line-mates. His results on ice have been mixed, though he has never played outright terribly. Let’s take a look at how Farabee’s season has looked so far, 17 games into his NHL career.
Farabee seemed to hit the ground running when he was first introduced into the lineup. He picked up where he left off in preseason, which, despite creating a lot of chances, meant he was unfortunately hitting the post a lot. Alain Vigneault originally paired Farabee with Kevin Hayes and Scott Laughton in a game where the Flyers absolutely dominated the Vegas Golden Knights. Eventually, after Laughton was injured, Farabee played on a line with James van Riemsdyk on the right wing and Claude Giroux at center to maximize depth in the middle.
While Farabee’s contributions early on were overshadowed due to the effectiveness of the Sean Couturier line with Travis Konecny and Oskar Lindblom, Farabee was able to be effective, especially when he joined up with Giroux. After Laughton exited the lineup, in Farabee’s next six games, only twice was his Corsi-for at 5-on-5 below break even.
These two games were the blowout in Pittsburgh where nobody looked good, and the shootout loss to the Maple Leafs where his line was primarily matched up against the Marner line at 5-on-5. It is definitely fair to say that those two games were anomalies for Farabee.
Farabee scored against the New Jersey Devils and Carolina Hurricanes in his sixth and eigth NHL games respectively, though after that point he seemed to slow down a bit. Farabee hasn’t scored in nine games, and overall, it’s looked empirically as if the pace of the NHL has caught up to him.
Though his possession metrics at 5-on-5 in the past three games have been solid (63.33%, 50.00%, 55.00% CF% at 5-on-5), he’s struggled in recent games to be as effective at disrupting play in the neutral zone and in the offensive zone, where he was very noticeable early on.
To be fair to Farabee, his most common line mates in these recent contests are Hayes and Michael Raffl (recently Laughton as he has returned from injury). Hayes has also struggled for form recently, and until his long-range empty net goal against the Hurricanes, he hadn’t scored in his last twelve contests, and had a ten game pointless streak. As for Raffl, he hasn’t played poorly, but also hasn’t played well enough at his peak to actively improve his line mates.
Though it appears as if Farabee has hit a wall, it’s natural that he’s going to have periods where he struggles. I don’t think anybody expected Farabee to play like a clear-cut top six forward for the majority of the season consistently. It is a good sign to see Farabee return to his normative play-driving profile despite the Flyers’ frustrations (not that they’ve played all too dismally).
Perhaps in the recent coming days, especially with Scott Laughton returning, we see Farabee moved to a different line. Though Laughton simply took Raffl’s spot with Hayes still in the middle, I think Vigneault may look to shake things up. With Morgan Frost playing like a legit top six forward with Giroux and Konecny on his line, I am not sure how Vigneault would alter the lineup, however, I am surely certain that he could change things at any moment, as has been his nature.