When Bobby Farnham joined the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins early last month, he was on a professional tryout agreement.
That essentially meant that Farnham had 25 games to prove he belonged with the Penguins in the AHL.
It only took him 11.
On Tuesday, the Penguins signed Farnham to an AHL contract. That means Farnham, 23, will have a place to play for the rest of the season. For the first time since college, Farnham has stability and a place to hone his game with an eye on becoming an NHL player one day.
But he's not going to change.
A sense of security now… it's a way better feeling, Farnham said after Thursday's practice at Coal Street. But at the same time you can't forget why or how you got the contract. Not changing how you play is the most important thing.
That's exactly what head coach John Hynes wants to hear. Since Farnham joined the Penguins on Nov. 6, he established himself as a high-energy, in-your-face player, posting 51 penalty minutes in 11 games. He played the same style at Wheeling at the start of the season, and that's what got him to Wilkes-Barre in the first place.
Once he got here he influenced people in our organization, with how he played, that he was worthy of a contract, Hynes said.
Still, it hasn't been easy. Since Farnham wrapped up his college career at Brown University earlier this year, he played a handful of games in the AHL with Worcester and Providence under an amateur tryout contract last season. Over the summer, he participated in Minnesota's development camp, earned an invite to Hamilton's training camp and wound up in Wheeling to start the season.
Now, Farnham's a Penguin from here on out.
A month ago I was worried about where I'd be playing, so this is huge, he said. With everything going on in the NHL right now it's hard to earn a contract anywhere. I just came here looking for an opportunity to prove what I could do.
While speed and energy are Farnham's strengths, he's also pretty versatile. Hynes said he can play center or wing, and he's already used him on several different lines.
From a coach's perspective, a player like Farnham could give any of the four lines a needed boost.
If a particular line needs some speed and physicality, you know you can put him there and he'll provide that. He's reliable, Hynes said. That affords him more ice time and the ability to play in more situations because you know what you're going to get.
The Penguins begin a two-game homestand tonight against the Hershey Bears, followed by a matchup against the Portland Pirates on Saturday. Tom Kuhnhackl and Keven Veilleux (expected to miss a couple of weeks) will be out.
As far as the possibility of splitting games with goaltenders Jeff Zatkoff and Brad Thiessen, Hynes said it's being discussed and a decision will be made today.