Bobby Farnham spent last summer with his college hockey career behind him, a handful of AHL games under his belt and no job.
Now, things are quite a bit different.
Farnham now has a full season of pro hockey — 65 games last season with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins — under his belt and a fresh NHL contract. Pittsburgh signed the physical winger to a one-year contract earlier this month. The two-way deal is worth $550,000 at the NHL level.
For Farnham, the contract is a culmination of hard work during a rookie season filled with uncertainty. He began the year attending Minnesota’s development camp before going to training camp in the AHL with Hamilton before joining Wheeling in the ECHL.
In November, the Penguins called Farnham up to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on a tryout and he earned an AHL contract the next month.
So far, Farnham’s progression from undrafted rookie to playing on an NHL contract makes for a pretty good story. But it’s one that Farnham says is still being written.
“Right now it’s a good story, but it’s a great story if I make the NHL,” he said. “During the summer you notice who Pittsburgh has and doesn’t have, and you see there might be a chance.”
If Farnham gets an NHL shot this season, it will be because of his physical, agitating style. Last season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Farnham totalled 274 penalty minutes in 65 games, good enough for third in the AHL.
Even though he has accomplished his goal of earning an NHL contract, Farnham insists that his agitating style won’t diminish.
“I only have one way to play — on the edge,” he said. “When I earned my AHL contract last season, people asked me if I would tone it down. If anything, earning a contract is more motivation to play my style and play it harder.”
But that doesn’t mean that Farnham isn’t willing to change a bit. While he kept his edgy style, he also learned how the Penguins expect their players to perform and was more than happy to oblige.
“I tried to do exactly what they wanted me to do and hoped it would pay off,” Farnham said. “It did with this contract, and it means a lot to me that it’s with Pittsburgh — the organization that gave me a shot.”
With the contract out of the way, Farnham has been spending his summer in Boston, working out and skating several times a week. He also plays in a summer league with other college and pro players who are friends.
“I’m not trying to run them through the glass,” Farnham said. “But I’m still scrappy.”
Whether he starts the season in Pittsburgh or with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Farnham is excited about playing his agitating style once again and possibly adding penalty killing to his repertoire. More important, he hopes to impress when Pittsburgh’s training camp opens in September.
“That’s very important to me because I can go against NHL guys and the organization can see me play with them,” Farnham said. “Last summer I had no idea where I was going to end up, and now I have an NHL contract with the Pittsburgh organization. I’m excited for every opportunity that’s coming up.”