The recent signing of Bobby Farnham to a one-year deal was a bit confusing, to put it lightly. The Montreal Canadiens are loaded up on bottom-six forwards, well over the point of excess. In the AHL, the St. John's IceCaps are getting a fresh infusion of prospects from the CHL and free agency as well. So where exactly does the gritty, hard-hitting Farnham fit in? It would seem likely that he is destined to be another veteran on a very young IceCaps squad.
The main issue with Farnham is he's the wrong type of leadership for a young team. He's a reckless, penalty-taking machine who hurts his team more than he helps it. In his three most recent season in the AHL with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, he collected: 274, 166, and 226 PIMs; not exactly what a team looking to improve goal-scoring needs. Add in his recent suspension for a cheap shot on Dmitrij Jaskin and you have a massive liability whenever he steps out on the ice.
Now all of this could be considered a non-factor if Farnham was deployed in limited minutes, or in a manner suiting his style. Unfortunately, previous experience with players of his ilk under Sylvain Lefebvre indicate the exact opposite is likely to take place.
Now going into his fifth season behind the bench as head coach Lefebvre has had the likes of Zack Stortini, Kyle Hagel, Nick Tarnasky and John Scott all play for him at one point. Not only were they playing regularly during the season, they were playing a large amount of minutes and dragging their linemates down. Former first-round pick Louis Leblanc spent a large portion of a season with one or both of Hagel and Stortini on his wings after suffering a high ankle sprain, leading to one of his worst professional seasons in hockey. The following year after being tasked with "making an impact" by Marc Bergevin Leblanc was saddled with Nick Tarnasky, and, predictably, failed to get much going offensively with the enforcer on his line.
John Scott was an interesting case. As a forward he played minimal minutes and even contributed on the power play occasionally. However, when he was moved to defense to help cover for a rash of call-ups he was at fault for several monumental collapses in the span of just a week. It's a coach's job to ice the best possible line-up every night, so why was Scott, who hadn't played defence in years, playing over prospect Mac Bennett? Why were Stortini, Hagel, and Tarnasky playing more than the skilled Joonas Nättinen or Alexander Avtsin?
This is where the Farnham signing becomes highly concerning. He fits the mould of a player that Lefebvre loves to stick in situations that end up harming the team in the long run. Players like Michael McCarron, Jacob de la Rose and Charles Hudon are on the cusp of cracking the NHL line-up full time and could potentially lose valuable ice time in the name of grit. Perhaps more concerning is how this could drive younger prospects such as Nikita Scherbak, Martin Réway, Daniel Audette or Jeremy Grégoire down the line-up, or even into the press box.
Even if he makes the NHL roster, there's the possibility of Farnham forcing one of Artturi Lehkonen, Sven Andrighetto, or Daniel Carr out of the line-up as well. It's a confusing signing, made even worse by the pure fact that whatever league he ends up in, Farnham is likely squeezing out a skilled player once again.