Unless he had the puck — or was working relentlessly to try to get it from the opposition — it was easy to overlook American winger Joel Farabee this season.
After all, he’s a smidge under six feet tall, weighs 168 pounds and spent his season in the shadow of national team linemates Oliver Wahlstrom and Jack Hughes. Wahlstrom projects as a top-10 pick in Dallas while Hughes, a year younger, is merely a potential first-overall selection for the 2019 NHL Draft.
Most people watching this dynamic trio were looking at Farabee third. Hopefully they noticed that he, not Wahlstrom, had a ‘C’ on his jersey.
Like his linemates, Farabee is a fleet, offensive player. He had 76 points in 62 games for the Under-18 team – a better finisher, Wahlstrom outscored him by 21 points. At the under-18 World Championship Farabee had eight more points in seven games and the Americans won silver after taking gold the previous year.
Wahlstrom and Farabee played on both teams. But U.S. coach Seth Appert chose Farabee as his captain, because the slight winger from Cicero, N.Y., has a competitive, all-around game that belies his size.
“I get why people don’t ask as much about him,” Appert told NHL.com. “There are other more bigger and more traditional guys to be asked about. But there were only two call-up players last year on the (under-18 team) who helped us win the world championship and they were Wahlstrom and Farabee. I think that says a lot right there that he was able to play his way up and play an integral part, and scores two goals in the gold-medal game.
“The best thing about Joel is that he competes so hard, and he goes to the areas most people don’t want to go to, and he scores tons of goals at the front of the net. He’s talented enough to score nice goals, but he adds so many goals because of his willingness to go to the hard areas. And he’s comfortable in those areas because he’s legitimately tough.”
Farabee probably isn’t going to get much taller, but he’s going to get stronger. The way he plays, it’s easy to imagine a 180-pound Farabee turning into Zach Parise 2.0, playing both ends of the ice and working hard every shift.
NHL Central Scouting rates him as the 12th-best North American skater, but it will be surprising if Farabee makes it past the middle of the first round in Dallas.
From: Cicero, N.Y.
Weight: 168 pounds
Like many younger siblings, Farabee benefited from competing in hockey (and everything else) against older brothers Jake and Jesse. The boys’ parents, Dave and Pam, built a backyard rink at their home in upstate New York and Joel spent countless hours trying to measure up to his brothers, who were good enough to play college hockey.
“I learned a lot from them,” Joel told Syracuse.com reporter Lindsay Kramer. “They beat me up a little bit, but it was for the best. They taught me to be a good person along the way.”
Another huge athletic influence on Farabee was his grandfather, Joe Klodzen, who died shortly before Joel’s U17 season.
“He was a baseball player and was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals,” Farabee said. “He played in the minors for a little bit. Overall, he was probably my biggest role model. He showed me how to be a good person. Even though he wasn’t a hockey player, he always showed me how to do things the right way.”
— USHL (@USHL) March 15, 2018
WHAT NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING SAYS
Scout Greg Rajanen: “Joel is a very good puck mover with outstanding vision. He shows creative puck plays consistently. He has a quick release and can snap the puck with pace. He’s hard on pucks in all areas of the rink. He has a high hockey IQ with good offensive instincts. Joel is a leader on his team, setting an example with hard work and team play.”
WHAT FARABEE SAYS ABOUT HIMSELF
“I think I have a really good ability to see the ice,” he told NHL.com. “I can make plays through the neutral zone, I’m good in the (defensive) zone and creating a lot of offence from that is something I do pretty well. And also being a two-way forward, I think my defensive game is pretty good along with my offensive ability, so that really helps.”
After committing initially to the University of New Hampshire, Farabee is headed next fall to Boston University. Among BU’s luminary hockey grads is Jack Eichel, another U.S. National Development Program product who was drafted second overall by the Buffalo Sabres in 2015 after the Edmonton Oilers took Connor McDavid.
“He’s one of the best in the NHL right now and he’s gone through the same exact process that I am,” Farabee said. “He’s definitely someone to look up to and definitely someone I’d aspire to be like.”