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World Juniors

Farabee, Wahlstrom eye NHL, second World Juniors trip this season

Forward prospects for Flyers, Islanders consider intriguing options

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

PLYMOUTH, Michigan -- Joel Farabee could be packing for a flight to San Jose on Dec. 26 with the Philadelphia Flyers and Oliver Wahlstrom could be preparing to travel to Chicago with the New York Islanders the same day.

Or they could be in the Czech Republic getting ready to play for the United States against Canada in the first game of the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship.

This week, though, the focus is on the WJC, and that process is ongoing at the World Junior Summer Showcase at USA Hockey Arena.

"I think it's always good to be able to represent your country," Farabee said. "My goal is to make the NHL this year, so if I can't go to the tournament that would be a bittersweet thing. But right now, I'm focusing on playing for the team and being able to represent my country again."

Farabee and Wahlstrom each helped the U.S. win silver at the 2019 WJC. In seven games, Farabee had five points (three goals, two assists). Wahlstrom had four points (two goals, two assists) and a U.S.-best 27 shots on goal.

Video: Flyers draft F Joel Farabee No. 14

The forwards have made strong impressions during their first two games this week. Farabee has played left wing on the top line for USA Blue, alongside center Alex Turcotte and right wing Cole Caufield. He had an assist in a 4-2 win against Sweden on Saturday and scored two goals in a 7-1 victory against Finland on Sunday.

Wahlstrom has played right wing on the top line with USA White. He scored a power-play goal in a 3-2 loss to Finland on Saturday and had four shots on goal in a 2-1 overtime loss to Sweden on Sunday.

In addition to offensive production, they've also emerged as leaders. Wahlstrom was designated captain for USA White on Saturday.

"You've got to lean on those guys," U.S. coach Scott Sandelin said. "They've been through it, hopefully they're sharing some things with the guys. I think just going on the ice and playing the way they did was a great example."

Farabee, the No. 14 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, signed his entry-level contract with the Flyers on March 25. He impressed during Philadelphia's development camp with his high-end hockey IQ, and the only advice he got when camp ended was to get stronger to handle the rigors of pro hockey.

"The biggest thing they told me after development camp was to be physically ready to handle an 82-game season," he said.

He's been working at the Flyers practice facility since development camp ended and already feels more powerful on the ice.

"I definitely think I've gotten stronger," he said. "I feel a lot stronger. I'd say I'm in the best shape of my life right now, so I think that's really good. I'll head back there after this camp and be there until training camp. I'm happy with how things are going and I feel pretty good."

Wahlstrom, selected by the Islanders with the No. 11 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, struggled as a freshman at Boston College with 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists) last season but signed a three-year, entry-level contract March 28. He made an immediate impact with Bridgeport of the American Hockey League with three points (two goals, one assist) in five regular-season games and four points (two goals, two assists) in five playoff games.

Video: Islanders draft F Oliver Wahlstrom No. 11

"I found myself when I went up and played with Bridgeport, I started to find my game more," Wahlstrom said. "I like the hockey, it's smarter, guys are awesome, guys who took me in. When I got [to Bridgeport] I felt like myself again, who I was and who I was playing with. It was a good experience.

"The pro style is awesome, so much fun. College is not for everybody. I had to sit Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and do school and not play any games. That's tough on the body and the mind. I was very fortunate to get the opportunity and just go from there."

Wahlstrom spent part of his offseason training with Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League. The program was focused on improving his quickness and involved a lot of running, from 3-4 miles on a track to running up Olympic ski jump hills.

"I really feel like my body is changed, my quickness is better," he said. "I went to Sweden 213 (pounds), came back 200. ... At development camp my body fat was 6.4 (percent), was about nine, 10 (percent)."

The ultimate beneficiaries of Farabee and Wahlstrom's offseason work will be the Flyers and the Islanders. Sandelin hopes to benefit as well at the WJC.

"We'll see what happens," he said. "Right here I like how they're here and in the moment now and competing and playing hard for us and doing the things we've asked of them, so that's all we can ask right now. We'll see what happens."

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