(Photo Credit: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)

By: Tom Calautti | Follow me on Twitter @TCalauttis and Linktree

The Providence Bruins have had a less-than-encouraging start to the 2023-24 season. The team has registered 19 points through its first 19 games, good enough for seventh in their division and eight points out of first place. Boston’s AHL affiliate hasn’t been able to celebrate much so far, but one player who has stood out is John Farinacci.

The Red Bank, New Jersey, native spent the 2022-23 season as the captain at Harvard University, where he posted five goals, 15 assists, and 20 points in 19 games while wearing the “C” for the Crimson. That performance earned the attention of the Bruins brass, and on August 16, 2023, General Manager Don Sweeney signed him to a two-year, $1,900,000 contract. Farinacci attended the Prospect Challenge as a member of the Black and Gold and even took part in training camp with the organization before being assigned to Providence to start the season.

In his introductory press conference, the Ivy Leaguer spoke about modeling his game after Patrice Bergeron. So far, he’s given Bruins fans a reason to believe they may have another top-six center in the mix. Despite the team’s slow start, negative goal differential, and inconsistent play, Farinacci has been a shining star for the Providence Bruins. Through 19 games, he leads the team in goals (6), assists (9), and points (15).

The part of Farinacci’s game I enjoy most is his willingness and ability to make plays in and around the net. He has a knack for finding open teammates in the slot and has the strength and finesse to make things happen. He’s an excellent passer, which allows him to thread pucks through sticks and defenders and put them in prime positions for his teammates.

Similarly, he uses that unique combination of strength and finesse to create scoring opportunities for himself in front of the net. He’s smart enough to find soft spots in coverage and open up for teammates to see him in prime scoring positions. On top of that, he’s strong enough to fight his way through defenders and generate chances from Grade-A areas.

Over the years, NHL and hockey analysts everywhere have highlighted the flaws and inconsistencies of evaluating a player’s plus/minus. However, on a team with a negative goal differential hovering around a .500 record, the fact that he is plus-10 is wildly impressive. He’s an innovative and competitive defender who takes his responsibilities as a center seriously, something this organization has always valued. The combination of offensive/defensive awareness and reliability is something that truly makes him an exciting prospect.

Center prospects are tough to come by, and although Charlie Coyle and Pavel Zacha have played well to start the season, the future is coming for the Boston Bruins. It’s challenging to predict production at the NHL level. Still, John Farinacci will do his best to insert himself into the conversation about centers of the future. Either way, the Bruins now have another forward to watch in their system.