Joel Farabee’s Evolution: Development Breakdown

It feels like only a few week have passed since I was sitting in my living room watching the 2018 NHL draft. Being born and raised a Flyers fan, I really only focused on the players their team could potentially draft at that time. I vividly remember texting our current Pine Squad Captain and more or less saying, “You better hope they get Farabee” in about 15 different ways. Yes, I was high on him prior to the draft. That really is not the purpose of this article though. I am not going to sit behind a screen and tell people, “I was right hahaha”. I am also not going to give you the typical media spiel of, “I hope he can continue his strong play”. Nah, that is not what this article is. This article is about breaking down what is different about his game this season. Points scored have no bearing on his value. They do make it more fun to evaluate him, but as long as he stilled played as a consistent difference maker, he could have 4 points in 13 games and I would still write this article the same way. Points are not the sole definition of development. Players can still have a positive impact on their team on without scoring. His game has and will continue to evolve and I am going to break down how/why it has and will continue to. I see 3 elements of Farabee’s development as the biggest factor in his evolution.

These 3 traits are the difference between Joel Farabee in 2019-2020 season and Joel Farabee as a consistent asset to the Flyers this season:

Physical Maturity

I chose to list list this one first because it is a factor in the evolution of the other traits as well. When Joel Farabee was drafted by the Flyers he was under 165lbs. In Farabee’s first professional season he managed to bulk up and enter the league around 175lbs. Then finally to start this current season he added an additional 10-12 pounds of muscle to hit around 185lbs. If this sounds like an unimportant factor, I really hate to be that guy, but it might be the most important factor for young players to translate their game to the NHL. The amount of muscle on a young players body directly impacts their straight line speed, battle ability, and strength with and without the puck. If you do not believe me take a peek at Jack Hughes year 1 and Jack Hughes year 2. The increase in strength allows players to comfortability translate the attributes of their game that made them elite as prospects to the NHL. With increased strength comes increased comfortability carrying the puck, more powerful shooting, willingness to battle, and ability to effectively win battles. Having the strength to compete against grown men allows you to make a difference. Farabee is the strongest he has ever been and at 20 years old and only 185lbs there is room to for more. He looks faster, stronger, and comfortable with the puck on his stick. This skill set also takes a significant amount of time to develop. Seeing the impact the development of this trait has had on Farabee’s game, at only 20(about to be 21) years old is exciting. Although, it should be more exciting to imagine how he will look when he is closer to his ceiling in this area next season.

Confidence

This is probably the area Farabee’s game has advanced most and is a major reason for his increased effectiveness for the team. It is amazing the difference a season of experience can make. His rise in confidence level is positively correlated with his progression to physical maturity, but it still belongs in it’s own category. He is confident when he has the puck. Farabee has always had a very high hockey IQ, the increased confidence with the puck allows him to utilize it more. His passing is crisp, but the lift in this category gives him the ability to create high danger opportunities. Players with low confidence and high hockey IQs can shelter their game and only make first read flow or safe outlet passes to avoid making a mistake. With high hockey IQ and high confidence players take risks. These risks can lead to turnovers, but they also lead to some of the best scoring opportunities a team can generate. Farabee is doing this. The lift to this trait is also visible in his loose puck battles and forecheck. The higher confidence has also helped him become significantly more comfortable shooting the puck. He is confident that he can make a difference in the game and continually looking for ways to contribute. Is there room to grow? 100%. It was not as evident last season and there have really only been flashes of it this season, but Farabee’s hands are silky. When his confidence is at its peak I fully expect to see a lot more dangles.

Skills

The relationship between skill development, progression toward physical maturity, and increased confidence are all positively correlated. Despite that, it is still worth noting that his individual skills are at different level than they were a season ago. Farabee’s edgework has always been great, them and his innately high hockey IQ are a huge reason he managed to play 52 regular season and 12 post season games last season. However the increased strength this season has allowed him to utilize his edges without being bodied off the puck instantly. His shot is also both more accurate and more powerful. His straight line north/south speed is the biggest and possibly most noticeable improvement. The increased speed really opens up how much of an asset he can be in the NHL. All of these skills have not hit their respective ceiling yet and will likely continue to improve as his game matures.

Conclusion

I have to wrap this up, so I will try to keep it short. I am not going to say “I hope he can” blah blah blah. He will continue to be asset for the flyers this season. Will he be a point per game player this season? Probably not, but it is not out of the realm of possibility. One thing that I will definitively state is he will consistently make a difference for his team. Will he be a point per game player next season? I am not going to make a declarative prediction for my answer, but I will say his ceiling is sky high. He has the all the tools to be a future star in the NHL. Overall, be excited. The Flyers future is bright. This kid will be a leader in the organization for years to come. Ultimately, this season provides a sneak peek of what is to come for both Farabee and the organization.

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