Joel Farabee, US National Team Development Program (USHL)
Position: Left Wing
Age on Draft Day: 18.33 Years Old
Height/Weight: 6’0, 168 pounds
2017-2018 Stats (USHL Only): 26 GP, 15 G, 25 A, 18 PIM, +26
NHL Central Scouting: 12th (North American Skaters)
HockeyProspect.com (March): 8th
Scott Wheeler (The Athletic): 10th
ISS Hockey: 11th
Bob McKenzie (TSN): 14th
Jeremy Davis (Canucks Army): 14th
Future Considerations: 15th
Craig Button (TSN) (March): 15th
On a USNTDP team with a ton of pure skilled players, Joel Farabee offered a nice balance. That’s not to say that Farabee lacks skill, but he is a more rustic counterpart to Jack Hughes and Oliver Wahlstrom, among others.
Farabee is a very hard working player, and it speaks to his competitiveness and smarts that the USNTDP utilized him on the penalty kill and as a slot presence despite being undersized. He’s a very good “system” player, if you will. He works well along the boards, not only forechecking well to get to pucks but also in battling long enough to either delay for help or to outright win possession. On the penalty kill, that can mean eating up time. He also moves the puck well in the corners and behind the net, and so therefore will be effective in a cycle. He’s very good at reading plays in the neutral zone and forcing turnover, turning them into transition chances. Here is some video showing these various abilities (he is #28 in most clips).
Farabee put up very good numbers both in the USHL as well as internationally at both the Five Nations Tournament and U18 World Championship. Based on Canucks Army’s SEAL-adjusted scoring, Farabee ranks fourth among all 2018 NHL Draft eligibles. At face value, he looks like a high-end scorer, and it’s why he has a very real shot at getting drafting in the top-12, maybe even top-ten.
That’s where I pump the brakes, though. As previously shown, Farabee can create offense off of transitions from turnovers. He also is a pretty good skater, has a decent shot, and good vision. Here are some skilled or thoughtful plays in which Farabee makes a pass to set up a chance (wearing #15 in some clips and #28 in others).
And here are some good scoring chances.
So yes, Farabee is not absent of skill and vision. But when going over the majority of his goals, he was scoring from deflections or loose pucks around the goal mouth or slot.
There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. It’s not that these are easy goals. Farabee is very good at fighting for position in the low slot and getting his stick on pucks. In the modern NHL, where goalies are rarely beaten cleanly from the perimeter, all teams need a few players who can create havoc in front and score off of second chances and broken plays.
But goals like those are largely dependent on having linemates who are primary drivers offense. That point transitions into the other reason I am a little bit tepid about his numbers. This year’s USNTDP team might be the best ever. Jack Hughes, the no-doubt top pick for the 2019 NHL Draft, put up numbers that blew away the likes of Jack Eichel, Auston Matthews, and Patrick Kane at the same age. Furthermore, Oliver Wahlstrom is one of the best forwards to come through the program. Cole Caufield and Alex Turcotte are likely first-round picks next season, and there are a number of other very good players on the roster as well. Here is one example I saw where Farabee got a primary assist off of an extraordinary effort from Hughes (#43).
And here is a Farabee goal where he puts a puck into an empty net thanks to a great setup from Hughes.
If you look at pretty much everyone on the USNTDP, they all put up really good numbers relative to expectations and ability. A rising tide lifts all boats, and while Farabee is very good at what he does, I’m not sure he produces quite this much in a different season with a different roster.
Can Farabee become a first-line forward in the NHL? Yes and no. Times have changed, and coaches no longer stack the top line while putting pure muckers and grinders in the bottom-six. Farabee does a lot of good things. He plays a 200-foot game, can be a leading forechecker on a line, cycles the puck well, and can score goals from the net front. He also has sufficient skill on the puck. Players like Alex Burrows, Adam Graves and Mike Knuble were incredibly productive on top lines because they were very good at what they did and their skillsets complemented elite offensive drivers (Messier, Kovalev, The Sedin’s, Forsberg, etc.)
I’m not sure, though, that Farabee is capable of becoming a premier offensive player on a Stanley Cup contender, though. He’s not someone who will beat defenders on-on-one nor be the focal point of offensive possessions. Maybe he can be a tactical fit for a good team’s top line, but if you were to rank that theoretical team’s forwards from top-to-bottom, I don’t think he would headline the list. For me, the realistic hope for Farabee is as a middle-six, two-way forward, with perhaps the upside to be a bit better than that. That’s a very good player, and the type teams need to win. And that’s why we advocate for him in the middle of the first round.
As far as the Rangers are concerned, whether Farabee should to be 14th or 16th or 20th on their draft list is largely semantics. Farabee is a safe bet to get drafted somewhere in the 12-20 range. Even his biggest supporters would agree he’d be a reach at ninth overall, and his dropping to the Rangers’ next selection at 26th overall is an improbable outcome.
That is as things stand, though. The Rangers are extremely aggressive on the trade front right now, and they could very well trade back from ninth or up from 26 or 28 into the mid-teens. Though Farabee is probably not an option right now, who knows what the circumstances might be on the night of the draft.
What Others Have Said
USNTDP U-18 Head Coach Seth Appert (via NHL.com):
“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.”
U-18 USA World Championship Head Coach John Wroblewski (via Detroit News):
“He’s one of the most useful players in the draft this year. I can imagine him sliding into a team’s 4th-line and move up to a top line with his skill and ability.”