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Best still yet to come with Farabee

Joel Farabee takes part in a skating drill during a Flyers practice earlier this season. Photo by Zack Hill, Flyers senior director of communications.

Perhaps Joel Farabee’s jump was to be expected. But it doesn’t mean Philadelphia Flyers fans should be any less excited about it.

Farabee was one of the few bright spots in the Flyers’ 3-1 loss to the Washington Capitals on Sunday, as the 21-year-old potted his 11th goal of the season. Even more impressively, all 11 of Farabee’s goals have come at even strength and he was tied for the league lead with Toronto’s Auston Matthews in that category through the weekend.

Those types of numbers and present company are not something to take lightly. And the best part of Farabee’s game is that there’s room to improve. 

Although scoring the Flyers’ lone goal on Sunday, Farabee was also at least partly responsible for two that ended up in the Flyers’ net. Farabee was late picking up coverage on Washington defenseman Dmitri Orlov, who put the Caps ahead 2-1 in the second period. Then, perhaps biting off more than he could chew, Farabee got in a physical exchange with towering defenseman Zdeno Chara in the offensive zone, which led linemate James van Riemsdyk to intervene. It resulted in a total breakdown at the other end, and Nick Jensen fired home the insurance goal in what was essentially a 4-on-2 break.

No one would expect Farabee to take on Chara and knock the giant man off his skates. One would expect Farabee to be aware of his surroundings and avoid such a confrontation. The good thing is that Farabee knows it. He’s an intelligent hockey player who is extremely accountable on most nights, much like his teammate and his sometimes-linemate Sean Couturier. 

These are the types of attributes that will keep Farabee in a positive light when the inevitable regression of shooting percentage descends from the lofty 20.4 percent he has been firing at so far.

But for now, we can look at Farabee’s offensive numbers and marvel at a vision coming to fruition when former general manager Ron Hextall shipped Brayden Schenn off to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for two first-round draft picks, which became Farabee and Morgan Frost.

St. Louis, of course, won the Stanley Cup in 2019 with Schenn playing a substantial role. The Flyers, at the time of the trade, were not contenders and were about to draft Nolan Patrick with a surplus of centers already in their system.

Schenn’s time in Philadelphia was done. Although a good power-play producer, Schenn never showed consistent production at 5-on-5 while in Philly, which made him expendable. He had scored 17 of his final 25 goals in Philadelphia with the man advantage.

Some will argue a Stanley Cup banner wins any trade since the team captures the ultimate goal. Smarter people will argue that you don’t consider whether a Western Conference team will win a championship as a result of a trade you make to better your own team. Some trades can have two winners, and the Flyers were certainly one of them with Farabee.

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