What Should the Flyers Expect from Joel Farabee?

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

From the day he was drafted, it took only one full season for Joel Farabee to make his NHL debut during the 2019-20 season. That was all possible due to a blockbuster trade during the 2017 NHL Draft, one that sent Brayden Schenn to the St. Louis Blues for the 27th overall pick, a conditional 2018 first-round pick, and Jori Lehtera. The conditional 2018 first-rounder, which was 14th overall, was used by the Flyers to select Farabee.

Fast forward to the 2019-20 season, where the 6'0", 164-pound left winger showed the mindset of a veteran throughout the 52 games he played in a season shorted due to the pandemic, scoring eight goals and 21 points. In his second season in the league, the 56-game 2020-21 season, the now 21-year-old from Syracuse, NY, would exceed expectations, going from the 21-point total as a rookie to 38 points, including 20 goals.

Farabee was rewarded this offseason with a six-year, $30 million ($5 million AAV) contract extension, which will kick in during the 2022-23 season.

"We consider Joel to be a key piece of our core moving forward and we're very happy to have him signed to a long-term extension," Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher said in a release following the signing. "In a short amount of time, Joel has proven to be one of the brightest young talents in the NHL. His hockey IQ, skill set, and passion for the game have all contributed to his early success and we feel that there is tremendous upside to his game yet. He plays a 200-foot game and has earned the trust and respect of his coaches, management, and all of his teammates."

Now although Farabee was deserving of a contract extension and a raise from his entry-level deal, there are some questions that come into play. Did the Flyers extend him too early? Is it too big of a contract? What should the Orange and Black expect from Farabee?

There is a lot riding on Farabee now that he’s received such a payday. He will certainly have to back up his 20-goal season in the years to come, along with his overall play. Farabee’s average time on ice increased by an entire two minutes from his rookie year to last year. Fletcher and head coach Alain Vigneault certainly have high expectations for him; therefore, expect to see an even larger role for Farabee here on out. He should easily be slotted into the top 6 forwards, among the likes of Kevin Hayes, Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, and one of the newest Flyers Cam Atkinson. Regardless of where he does play, Farabee’s expectations are high going into the 2021-22 season, so let’s take a look at each of the three questions asked.

Did the Flyers extend him too early?

It’s never a bad idea to lock up a young player, however, a small part in a contract extension for him most likely was because of the offer sheet situation involving Jesperi Kotkaniemi between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Montreal Canadiens. It’s safe to say Philadelphia didn’t want to run into a similar case once Farabee’s entry-level contract had expired. However, at the same time, clearly Philadelphia sees "Young Beezer" in their plans for the long run, so it never hurts to lock up a player of his caliber early. 

Is it too big of a contract?

There's an argument for both sides. It was always known that Farabee was going to get an extension at some point. But the long-term nature of this deal was perhaps more of a surprise. Every other young player the Flyers signed this offseason got a bridge deal. Carter Hart signed a three-year, $6.8 million ($3.979 million AAV) contract. Travis Sanheim re-signed for two years, $9.35 million ($4.675 million AAV). Last offseason, Oskar Lindblom signed a three-year, $9 million ($3 million AAV) deal as well. Another reason for why the longer term and higher AAV came now could be because he has only played two seasons with approximately 50 games each due to the shortened seasons. This will potentially be his first 82-game season. If he plays as well as he did last year, then it would be a step in the right direction and his numbers would see an even bigger boost as a result, potentially warranting a higher payday regardless of the timing of the extension. Hopefully, for the Flyers sake, this ends up being the potential steal it could become in the next few seasons.

What should the Orange and Black expect from Farabee?

After the season he had in 2020-21, it is reasonable to expect Farabee to consistently reach a minimum of 15 goals and 40 points. One benefit for Farabee is that the Flyers don't have to force him to play on the first line, given the current roster structure. No matter what line he plays on, the situations he's placed in or who he plays with, Farabee can do some damage among the top-six group of forwards. It should be expected that Farabee continue to take strides in his production, not only exceeding the previously mentioned minimums, but challenging for a 30-goal and 50-point season.

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