His NHL deal was announced only three days ago, but already, Predators defenseman David Farrance may be the best on his team when it comes to a particular skill set.
"I've actually become quite the chess player," the 21-year-old Farrance said Wednesday from his Nashville hotel room "I play online chess a lot, as nerdy as that sounds. It's just a good way to pass time, and I just find it fun."
Farrance has plenty of time to practice his craft as he's currently quarantining in Music City, but he's hoping to use those strategizing skills on the ice with the Preds soon enough.
After his collegiate career with Boston University came to a conclusion on Saturday, Farrance signed his two-year, entry-level contract with the Predators on the bus ride home that night, and on Sunday afternoon, one of the best defensemen in college hockey and the Preds made it official.
Originally drafted by the Predators in the third round (92nd overall) of the 2017 NHL Draft, Farrance recorded 16 points (5g-11a) in 11 games during a senior season that was capped by being named a Top 10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award for the second consecutive campaign, a Hockey East First Team All-Star and a semifinalist for the Walter Brown Award, which is presented annually to the best American-born Division I player in New England.
The native of Victor, New York, compiled 88 points (26g-62a) in 113 career games for the Terriers, leading or holding a share of his team's lead in points in his final two seasons.
When the Preds selected Farrance in 2017, hopes were high for his development at Boston University, and he did not disappoint. Now, he's ready for the next challenge filled with NHL aspirations.
"I went in as an 18-year-old kid, and coming out as a 21-year-old now, I feel more mature as a person and a player," Farrance said. "I see this as a good opportunity to get in an NHL locker room and watch guys like [Roman] Josi, [Mattias] Ekholm, [Ryan] Ellis, a great group of defensemen to learn from and just a good group of pros. I don't really have many expectations; I'm just looking forward to learning and excited to get in on NHL video sessions and learn from guys like that firsthand. I'm just excited to be a part of it."
Video: Blueliner Farrance signs two-year deal with Preds
Farrance has already had one of those meetings with another BU Terrier - Preds Head Coach John Hynes - where they watched video on Farrance's own game and evaluated not only his strengths and areas for improvement, but also what's expected of Predators defensemen. That session was just part of the process for Farrance who could see time in the NHL before the regular season is done, but, as always, the Preds will do what's best for the player.
"We're looking forward to having him come in, and once he gets out of quarantine, he'll be with the taxi squad," Hynes said. "Any player that's on the taxi squad is going to be eligible to play, so if we feel it's going to be the right thing for him and the team, if that opportunity presents itself, then there's a good chance we'd be able to see him, but I think it's not going to be something where he comes right in and you put him in. He's got to get up to speed, and just signing out of college and coming in, getting up to speed, getting back skating and kind of being around things and then we'll see where it goes from there."
Not only is Farrance looking forward to learning from Nashville's top blueliners, he's also anticipating a reunion with one as well. Farrance was teammates with Dante Fabbro for two seasons at Boston University, and the older Fabbro was a role model at the time with the young defenseman from the moment he stepped on campus.
"I'm really looking forward to seeing Fabbs again," Farrance said. "Great guy, great leader and I'm just looking forward to possibly sitting on a bench with him again."
While he'll get to study alongside NHL defensemen now, Farrance's development over the past four years since he was drafted by Nashville has been helped by a number of contacts in the organization, led by Predators Director of Player Development Scott Nichol. The ability to learn and grow with the help of the NHL club is instrumental for any draftee, and Farrance is no different feeling as prepared as he can be at this stage for the upcoming challenges.
"Throughout all four years, I've been really close with Scott Nichol," Farrance said. "He's been a tremendous help to me, and we talk to each other a lot about really anything - school, hockey, family, so he's been a huge help. [Former Preds Development Coach] Wade Redden, when I was a freshman, sophomore, and halfway through my junior year, he was there and he was a huge help talking about really the same things, hockey and school; he would help with really anything, and now [Preds Defense Development Coach Rob Scuderi] has taken over that job, and he's also done a great job, a great guy to talk to who knows a lot about the game. I've got plenty of resources with Nashville, and it's been great."
Farrance, who grew up outside of Rochester skating on a backyard rink built by his father, also remembers being in awe with former NHLer Ryan Callahan stopping by practices from time to time in his youth hockey days. As he got older, Farrance also trained with former NHLers Brian and Steven Gionta, mainstays in the Rochester hockey scene, who helped show him what was necessary to play hockey at the highest levels.
Today, that dream of skating under the bright lights of the NHL is closer than ever before, and once he's gotten a few more chess matches to his name, Farrance will lace up his skates at Bridgestone Arena and continue preparing for a moment he's been waiting for his entire life.
He doesn't yet know when game No. 1 will come, but the thought of calling Nashville home is even better than a checkmate.
"It's one of the best cities you could play in, and the energy and the vibes here are unbelievable," Farrance said. "I remember watching the [2017 Stanley Cup Final] a while back and just how crazy it was in the building. I didn't go to a game, but you could just tell on TV. I'm sure it didn't do it justice, but it just seemed like the building was rocking, and the fans are great… It's a great city. I love the city and the fans seem amazing - one of the best fanbases in the NHL."