Skip to Main Content
The Official Site of the Philadelphia Flyers

Point of Deception

Deceptive hands, quick mind make Joel Farabee's game stand out

by Bill Meltzer @billmeltzer

Two things that Flyers 2018 first-round pick Joel Farabee possesses in spades are good hands and strong hockey sense. He is still physically immature but his game on both sides of the puck are highly advanced.

The 14th overall pick of the 2018 NHL Draft, stands a shade below 6-0 and currently weighs 162 pounds. Nevertheless, Farabee plays a competitive game that is above his weight class. He is a threat off the rush and can make something out of nothing on broken plays. 

Although not a pure natural speedster in the Dylan Larkin mode, Farabee is nevertheless an above-average skater with good acceleration and somewhat above-average top speed. As he fills out and adds more power, he could add more of an explosive dimension to his skating capabilities.

The two elements of Farabee's game that most impress Flyers general manager Ron Hextall and the organization's scouts are the completeness of his 200-foot game and the combination of deft setup and finishing ability in the offensive zone. Farabee threads the needle effectively and his shots give goaltenders fits.

Hextall noted these primary traits in Farabee both before and after the Flyers recent Development Camp.


"He disguises whether it's a shot or a pass. He's got really quick hands and a lot of guys will come down the goalie knows where they're going to shoot, they know exactly where they're going to shoot, right? So, you see goalies make a save and you go, 'Woah! That was quick.' Well, it really wasn't because they read the puck off the stick blade rather than reacted to it. The puck is really hard to react to," Hextall said.

"We call it 'deception.' If he's going to shoot the puck, he'll turn his hands real quick and bang and let it go. Or he'll open up for a shot and he'll pass the puck. A lot of top guys in the league, you wonder why they score or how that pass went through. Well, they're showing hands to the defenseman, to the goalie. The little things that the naked eye doesn't see that they're doing, and Joel is one of those guys. His deception in his game is outstanding."

Bound for Boston University next season, the native of Cicero, NY, is coming off an outstanding season for the USNTDP's U-18 Squad (Farabee turned 18 on Feb. 25) on a line with Jack Hughes and Oliver Wahlstrom. Wahlstrom, was selected by the New York Islanders with the 11th overall pick of the 2018 Draft while Hughes is a very highly touted prospect for the 2019 Draft. Farabee was no passenger on the line, showing off a deft passing touch, excellent ice vision and a willingness to venture into the high-punishment, high-reward areas below and between the dots. Statistically, Farabee produced 70 points in 57 games.

Farabee is very good at controlling the pace of play. Like Flyers prospect Morgan Frost, Farabee excels in controlled entries into the offensive zone. He likes to hit the attack zone with speed, and then slow the tempo near the half-boards to study his options and then make a quick decision. He works the give-and-go as well as almost any player in his Draft class. When joined by a teammate, he keeps both the defense and goalie off-balance with a no-look pass or a sudden shot. Although not an overpowering shooter, he's an accurate one. This past season, Farabee scored quite a few of his goals from seemingly flat angles. The deception that Hextall referred to was on ready display.

So, too, was Farabee's ice vision and passing touch. Quite a few of Wahlstrom's goals this past year came on plays that were started by Farabee. He often drew defenders to him, creating a seam, and then his linemate would jump into the seams, receive a tape-to-tape pass and bury it in the back of the net. 

When playing without the puck, Farabee takes good routes and consistently applies back pressure. When he's under pressure on the defensive boards, he can usually get the puck over the blueline to force an opponent to regroup. He also has the potential to become a shorthanded scoring threat at the NHL level if called up to kill penalties as well as a potential regular on the power play. Unlike many high-skill players, Farabee will sacrifice himself to block shots in the defensive zone.

"I pride myself on playing a two-way game," Farabee said. "You aren't going to score every game, and you aren't always going to have the puck. If you are solid without the puck, defense leads to offense and that's a big part of the game."

Although he is a natural winger and is projected to remain a winger when he graduates to the professional level, Hextall said there are many "center-like" qualities to Farabee's game in terms of his all-around game across all three zones of the ice. 

"He's a real attention-to-detail player. He's got speed. He's got skill. He does a lot of the little things well," Hextall said.

Although he competes hard and is savvy in close-quarters battles, there are some limitations presented by Farabee's lack of size. He'll get outmuscled by more physically mature players and, in very tight checking games, can be neutralized offensively. These are things he (as well as Frost) will have to work through as he advances to playing against grown men. Added muscle would help considerably.

Farabee himself said as much immediately after the NHL Draft.

"I know that I will need to add some strength and I will work on doing that over the next year. Hopefully, I have a good year [as a freshman at Boston University]," Farabee said.

Joel Farabee's older brothers, NCAA Division III players Jake (6-foot-4, 201 pounds) and Jesse (6-foot-3, 185 pounds), do not have his natural hockey ability but they are both bigger and stronger. Hextall believes that Joel may not be finished growing, at least in his frame if not in his height. Even if his sheer body mass doesn't increase much, there is opportunity through diet and exercise for Farabee to add muscular weight.

"There's size in his family, and we think Joel might get a little bigger," Hextall said. "The bottom line is him just to continue getting stronger and being ready to compete against pros. We've said that about Morgan, and it's true for Joel and Jay [O'Brien] and the rest of these kids. We drafted them because they are good hockey players. We value hockey sense. We want good character. To be selected in the first round, obviously you have to have skill, too. But these are well-rounded players for kids that age."

View More