New Bruins prospect John Farinacci tries to model his game after Boston legend


“I think the way that he played the game was amazing. That’s the guy that I try to play like as much as I can.”

United States' John Farinacci (25) celebrates his goal against Finland during second-period IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship action in Edmonton, Alberta, Monday, Jan. 4, 2021.
John Farinacci projects as a steady, two-way center at the NHL level. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press via AP

Gifted with a poised hockey sense and a sound defensive game, new Bruins prospect John Farinacci projects as an effective two-way center at the NHL level if his development goes smoothly. 

And given his pro-game projection as an impact pivot down both ends of the ice, it should come as little surprise which player he tries to mimic whenever he hops over the boards.

“I see myself as a 200-foot centerman. I can play on both ends of the ice. Good on face offs — think I can kind of play any role that I need to,” Farinacci said on Wednesday. “I kind of pride myself on being somebody that can do that.

“I think my hockey sense, intangible wise, is probably my biggest strength. I think a guy that I tried to — obviously not comparing myself at all — but a guy that I watched a ton and really tried to emulate myself after was Patrice Bergeron. I think the way that he played the game was amazing. That’s the guy that I try to play like as much as I can.”

Of course, the Bruins are not expecting the 22-year-old Farinacci to become the next Bergeron as Boston’s franchise two-way centerman. And even with Farinacci’s evident talent, it’s not fair on any poised prospect to try and compare and contrast them with arguably the best defensive forward in NHL history.

Still, with the Bruins now staring at two major voids at the top of their lineup following Bergeron and David Krejci’s retirement, it should come as little surprise that Boston targeted Farinacci as a worthwhile investment in the post-Bergeron era.

Farinacci, who signed a two-year, entry-level contract with Boston on Wednesday after three seasons at Harvard, will most likely open the 2023-24 season with the Providence Bruins.

But with Boston likely leaving no stone unturned as it tries to build a center pipeline for the future, expect Farinacci to earn some reps during both training camp and preseason play.

“Mostly it was just about my game and how they evaluated my game and sort of how they see me fitting into their development plans here over the next little bit,” Farinacci said of Boston’s message to him as far as expectations within the organization. “So I wouldn’t say there’s anything too specific, but I think in the grand scheme of things — just kind of getting in the door and kind of getting started and such a great organization like Boston I think will do wonders for my development.”

Even with some expected seasoning on tap down in the AHL ranks this fall, Farinacci enters his first pro season as one of Boston’s most promising center prospects alongside 19-year-old Matthew Poitras.

A right-shot pivot, Farinacci played three seasons with the Crimson, scoring 25 goals and posting 61 total points in 79 games. Despite missing the first half of the 2022-23 season due to a herniated disc in his back, Farinacci closed out his collegiate career with 10 goals and 19 points in just 20 games as a senior.

Farinacci hit free agency on Tuesday after his exclusive draft rights with the Coyotes ended. He was originally taken by Arizona in the third round (76th overall) of the 2019 Draft, and was arguably the most intriguing free agent that landed on the market this week.

“With the Coyotes, that was something back in March that, obviously, was discussed a lot once the season ended,” Farinacci said. “And for whatever reason, it kind of just didn’t work out. Nothing but good things to say about them and their organization. Unfortunately, just kind of did not work out with them.”

Even though Boston may not have replacements in place who can completely account for Bergeron and Krejci’s offensive production and defensive acumen, Boston still has a number of centers ahead of Farinacci on the depth chart.

Both Charlie Coyle and Pavel Zacha are the early favorites for top-six reps, while Morgan Geekie, Trent Frederic, Patrick Brown and others will fight for reps down the middle on the third and fourth lines.

Providence regulars like Marc McLaughlin and Johnny Beecher will likely also earn looks during training camp.

Farinacci likely could have accelerated his path to the NHL ranks by signing with a younger, less-experienced roster.

But the former Harvard captain — who played for his uncle (and former Bruin) Ted Donato in college — was impressed by Boston’s pitch while fielding offers for other organizations on Tuesday.

“Obviously being here for the last couple years with Dexter [Southfield School] over there in Brookline and Harvard, I think it was always something in the back of my mind and something I kind of did my due diligence on going into five o’clock last night,” Farinacci, a New Jersey native, said of his connections with the Bruins. “Having talks with management last night, I loved everything they had to offer. … I talked to a couple other [teams] last night, but for me, it was nothing that could compare to the feeling of being a part of the Bruins.

Originally posted 2023-08-18 12:18:44.