Whether you were a fan of Ron Hextall as the Philadelphia Flyers General Manager or not, one thing is for sure, we can all agree that his drafting of high-end talent was as good or better than anyone else in Flyers history. When we look at the current Philadelphia Flyers roster, we immediately see the stamp Ron Hextall put on this team with his drafting. Travis Konecny, Carter Hart, Ivan Provorov, Oskar Lindblom, Nolan Patrick, Travis Sanheim, Nic Aube-Kubel, etc, etc. There are some pretty impressive names in there with plenty more coming in the next few seasons, much to the delight of Flyers fans everywhere. However, perhaps one of the most intriguing draft selections made by Ron Hextall, was a player he chose in the first round of the last draft he had as Flyers General Manager in 2018. That player is none other than Joel Farabee.
That was an interesting draft to say the least. It was well known across the NHL that the Buffalo Sabres who held the first overall selection were going to choose the big Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, but after that it was anyone’s guess who would land where. With the second pick Carolina selected perhaps the most offensively gifted player in the draft in Andrei Svechnikov, Montreal reached a little with the third pick by drafting for need when they selected center Jesperi Kotkaniemi, followed by Ottawa selecting feisty winger Brady Tkachuk with the fourth. The Flyers patiently awaited their turn, and finally with the 14th overall pick, Ron Hextall made his way to the podium and selected feisty U.S. born Left-Winger Joel Farabee.
Farabee played the first season after the draft with Boston University where he collected 36 points in 37 games. After that season he signed his entry level contract and was invited to the 2019-20 Philadelphia Flyers training camp where he really turned some heads. He made the team as a 19-year-old and played 52 games and collected 21 points mostly playing on the fourth line and a little on the third line, in a shortened season due to the pandemic. Not huge numbers by any stretch, but as a 19-year-old averaging 14:06 of ice time a game, that’s pretty darn good. Even at 19, you could tell this kid had some great skills, and all the right stuff needed to be a star. He reads the play well, he’s defensively responsible, he’s not afraid to go into the corners, and he plays really well without the puck. You could tell that it wouldn’t take him long to become a coach’s (and fan) favorite.
Thanks to the success Farabee had last season, he’s been given a much bigger roll this season by head coach Alain Vigneault. He is now averaging 15:48 per game of ice-time and playing mostly alongside Sean Couturier and JVR. In 21 games played so far, he has 11 goals and 20 points. Oh yeah, and those 11 goals? Well they all came at even strength which is good enough to tie him for the league lead in even strength goals. At age 21. Tied. For the league lead in NHL even-strength goals. At age 21. TWENRY-ONE! Just looks at the other names on that list. He’s tied for the league lead in ES goals all while averaging as much as 6:00 minutes of ice time per game LESS than some of those other players! He already boasts a 4-point game, another game where he scored a hat-trick becoming one of the youngest players in franchise history to do so behind only Sean Couturier and Eric Lindros! The opposite winger on his line, JVR, is on pace to have one of his best offensive seasons to date. I like to think that playing with Couturier has a lot to do with that, but so does playing with Farabee.
Here is a list of the NHL’s top point producers this season to come out of the 2018 NHL draft:
Quinn Hughes: 28GP, 2G, 20A, 22PTS;
Joel Farabee: 21GP, 11G, 9A, 20PTS;
Andrei Svechnikov: 24GP, 8G, 12A, 20PTS;
Brady Tkachuk: 27GP, 9G, 9A, 18PTS;
As you can clearly see, Joel Farabee is tied for second in points this season from players coming out of the 2018 draft but is only 2-points behind, has played 7 fewer games than leader Quinn Hughes of the Vancouver Canucks, and has played 3 fewer than the player he’s tied with, Carolina’s Svechnikov. While it’s still early in their careers, Flyers fans can’t help but feel excited about Joel Farabee and his future. More the time passes, and the more Joel Farabee plays, the more he shows that he probably should have been a top 5 pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. Another reason to LOVE the drafting Ron Hextall did as the Philadelphia Flyers General Manager, and all the more reason to hope that Ron Hextall got all of his incredible drafting out of his system in Philly and not do the same for the hated rival Penguins.
Photos: Philadelphiaflyers.com; NHL.com; BroadStreetHockey.com; TSN.ca;