PHILADELPHIA – Joel Farabee offered much promise when his 20 goals led the Flyers in scoring during the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season.
He wasn’t even old enough to buy a beer for much of that campaign. Hopes were high when he followed that up with 17 goals the following year.
But things took a wrong turn last summer when he suffered a serious injury during a workout, eventually forcing him to undergo an operation on his neck.
Initially, it was believed Farabee wouldn’t be ready to return to action until the late fall.
However, on opening night (Oct. 13) there Farabee was in the lineup.
He’s played in all 59 games and while his offensive production hasn’t been what it had been the past two seasons, he’s tried his hardest to make contributions.
Apparently those haven’t been enough.
With the NHL trade deadline coming up next Friday, Farabee’s name has popped up on the rumor radar. That’s what happens when you haven’t scored a goal in 18 straight games.
Making speculation even greater, Farabee’s agent says his client really hasn’t been given enough of an opportunity to show what he can do. In a recent game, Farabee, who turns 23 years old on Saturday, was demoted to fourth line and only played about five minutes.
At Friday morning’s skate at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, N.J., Farabee admitted there’s room for improvement but makes it clear he’s doing the best he can.
He also emphasized he would like to remain a Flyer.
“My play obviously hasn’t been good,” Farabee said. “I’m fully aware of that. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be a good player on this team to help out and right now I’m not.
“There are definitely some mental challenges, too.”
As for his agent’s claims about not enough opportunity, Farabee contradicted that.
“I’ve been put in a lot of good spots,’’ he said. “No complaints there. I think you see all that stuff on Twitter, people think I’m complaining about ice time and all that stuff. It’s not true at all. I don’t think my opportunities have been limited at all.”
Farabee’s father hails from the Philadelphia area so that’s one good reason he wants to stick around.
“I love playing here, I love the city,” the Boston University product said. “A lot of family ties and things like that. I really love playing here.”
The player said not to read too much into the reports on social media.
“You see stuff on Twitter and then people start tweeting other stuff,” the Cicero, New York native said. “It’s a rabbit hole in Twitter. I would not read too much into that.”
Coach John Tortorella acknowledged Farabee should get a bit of a pass because Farabee wasn’t able to hardly work out during the summer. His recovery is still a bit of a work in progress.
Farabee, a first-round pick (14th overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, says he has a good relationship with his coach.
“I feel like it’s similar for everybody,” Farabee said. “There aren’t really many one-on-one meetings. I just try to help out in any way I can, wherever I’m slotted.”
How much slack does Farabee feel he should get?
“I’m already not the biggest guy out there,” said Farabee, who is listed as 6-foot-0, 183 pounds. “So I think losing a full summer of lifting. . .before the season I really wanted to get back. I didn’t want to miss any time.
“I love playing, I would really rather not sit out. I felt conditioning-wise I was in good shape. I think my numbers in camp didn’t fall off or anything like that. It (the operation) is not excuse. I don’t think about it like that. My play hasn’t been good, I need to be a lot better.”
Tortorella is a demanding coach and yet he tries to treat everyone the same way with a degree of fairness.
Told of the agent’s comments, Tortorella said it was the first he had heard of them.
“The agent should just stay out of the business,’’ the coach said. “It’s been a hard year for Joel. It’s hard to evaluate Joel this year because quite honestly he gets high marks for coming right back from that operation.
“But it’s been up and down. I keep on putting him out there and see where it goes. This (agent comments) is news to me. He should just shut up.”
It doesn’t sound like the coach wants to move on from Farabee. There’s still a lot of potential there.
“I think I’ve been fair,” Tortorella said. “Throughout the year, he’s gotten some good ice time. I think he’s really important. He gives you another offensive guy who can help you on a couple different lines.
“I still hold that thought (about the operation). I think it’s been a struggle. I tried to leave him alone and let him work out of it. I think he’s been inconsistent but we’re going to keep on playing him and see where it goes.”
>Konency status unknown
Travis Konecny (upper-body injury) was a scratch and Tortorella could not provide an update. Konecny was injured in a collision with Edmonton defenseman MacKenzie Weeger on Tuesday night. . .The Flyers went with seven defensemen (Justin Braun in) and only 11 forwards (Kieffer Bellows was scratched).