The Nashville Predators season ended earlier than expected after being eliminated in the first round by the Dallas Stars. Nashville’s defence surprisingly struggled last season and were bested by Dallas’ up-and-coming defensive group. However, one player that made a strong impression was Dante Fabbro.
The Predators have been tipped as a Western Conference contender the last couple seasons. However, they’ve gone backwards the last two campaigns. General Manager David Poile said the team is open to make changes and dealing one of the Predators “Big Four” of P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis or Mattias Ekholm is on the table.
Nashville does have a few young players they are predicting will be the future of the team. Eeli Tolvanen has been in the big club for a few games, but has yet to stick. Another key young component is Fabbro.
Dante Fabbro Thrust Into Spotlight
Predators head coach Peter Laviolette immediately put the Boston University product into the lineup after he signed from college. The four regular season games at the end of the year served as an audition for the 20-year-old. Fabbro scored his first career NHL goal and registered a Corsi for of 51.9 in that audition.
Laviolette liked what he saw from the New Westminster, British Columbia native and put him on the post-season roster. Fabbro was on the third pairing with veteran Dan Hamhuis, who was impressed with his young partner.
“It’s been easy to do, because he’s a smart player and he just plays a simple, effective game out there,” Hamhuis said to NHL.com of playing with Fabbro. “I feel like we’ve been able to read off each other quite well. We’ve talked a lot off the ice, and we try to communicate on the ice as much as we can in order to make the game easier for ourselves.”
There was speculation that Fabbro was going to be traded in the Predators quest for more scoring. However, Nashville decided to keep the young defenceman and he was in the lineup for the playoffs.
Fabbro may have only gotten one assist in six post-season games, but Nashville is grateful to have former 17th overall pick of the 2016 NHL Draft. He was one of the best players for Boston University during his three-year tenure.
His two-way game and intelligence impressed many within the Predators club in his short time. He could start next season in the NHL as one of their six defencemen.
What’s His Place
Some think Fabbro might be better served playing for the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League next season. Fabbro would likely get more minutes and be one of the top defenders in the AHL.
Starting off highly-touted prospects in Milwaukee is nothing new for Nashville. Pekka Rinne, Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson and others have spent time honing their craft with the Admirals. That extra time helped their development out immensely because they got prime minutes in big-time situations.
Fabbro could make the main roster, but his minutes would be limited behind the big four. However, his NHL minutes could go up greatly if one of the four are traded.
What it Means for the Future
Fabbro does have the makings of being a great NHL defenceman. He does want to earn a full-time place on the Predators and has already represented Team Canada at the Spengler Cup and the IIHF World Championships.
The young defenceman will be important no matter where he plays next season, whether it’s Milwaukee or Nashville. If Nashville doesn’t make a deal, Fabbro should likely start his season in the AHL. However, his stay may not be a long one.
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – APRIL 20: Dante Fabbro #57 of the Nashville Predators plays against the Dallas Stars during the second period of Game Five of the Western Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena on April 20, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)