Dante Fabbro made his first start in the NHL just over five months ago during a pivotal regular season game between the Nashville Predators and Columbus Blue Jackets. With the Preds’ making a final push for their 2nd consecutive Central Division title and the Blue Jackets trying to solidify a playoff spot, Fabbro played just over 16 minutes in a 5-2 loss.
If we are being honest, it wasn’t the most memorable debut. The Preds’ struggled to contain the Jackets, and Fabbro himself looked a little bit nervous, especially at one point in the 2nd period. He fell down on the ice when trying to recover defensively, leading to an easy goal by Columbus’ Boone Jenner.
#Preds coach Laviolette on Dante Fabbro: “I thought he was really good, it was unfortunate that he got caught there….
For coming into that situation, I thought he was good.”
— AtoZSports Nashville (@AtoZSports) March 31, 2019
That goal made it 4-2 and probably helped seal the win for the Jackets. Like I said, it wasn’t the best moment for the Preds’ rookie.
But from that moment on? Fabbro looked like he belonged on NHL ice.
Playing mostly with Dan Hamhuis, Fabbro finished with nearly 13 minutes ice time per night in the regular season and playoffs. He did a great job of providing some offensive punch to a third defense pairing that had been lacking one. Fabbro even scored his first career goal in another important game down the stretch, this time against the rival Chicago Blackhawks.
Just another day in Smashville. pic.twitter.com/itgUPsSDrD
— Alex Daugherty (@AlexDaugherty1) April 7, 2019
In the aftermath of what was a disappointing conclusion to the Preds season, Dante Fabbro was a bright spot. He did more than enough to show he belonged in the lineup every night. Though the Stars’ offense torched the Preds in six games, Fabbro wasn’t the one getting torched on a regular basis. In fact, he and partner Dan Hamhuis are the only two defensemen to finish with a positive plus minus for the series (+2) for the Preds.
Fast forward to late June, when the Predators made a blockbuster trade to send P.K. Subban to the New Jersey Devils. Though this trade was mostly about clearing up cap space for Matt Duchene, Dante Fabbro was a big reason why David Poile felt comfortable rearranging the Preds’ blueline.
No doubt head coach Peter Laviolette had some influence on that front. Laviolette mentioned in his press conference at the end of the season that he projected Fabbro to have a bigger role going into next season, even before the Predators traded Subban
— Alex Daugherty (@AlexDaugherty1) April 24, 2019
Which brings us to present day.
Fabbro Leads the Prospects
This weekend, the Nashville Predators are hosting the 2019 NHL Prospects Showcase at Ford Ice Center in Antioch. Rookies and prospects from the Preds, Washington Capitals, Carolina Hurricanes, and Tampa Bay Lightning will all be present for a round robin modified tournament.
Dante Fabbro will be among the attendees for the Preds this weekend, along with 1st round pick Philip Tomasino and top prospect Eeli Tolvanen. The rest of the roster features previous draft picks like Rem Pitlick, Yakov Trenin, and Alexandre Carrier, as well as Jeremy Davies, the defensive prospect the Preds received in the Subban trade.
But without a doubt, Fabbro stands out among this weekend’s roster as the most likely to actually make the Preds’ roster out of training camp in a few weeks. For one, he’s the only one attending this weekend who played for the Preds in the playoffs last year. He’s also probably the most talented and highly rated of all the prospects.
It’s not really a stretch to say that Fabbro is a lock to make the Preds roster this Fall, even if things don’t go well this weekend.
Obviously, this weekend won’t be the same pressure for Fabbro as it was in that tough battle against the Stars. Or even as it was in his NHL debut five months ago.
But given the talent and skills that he brings to the ice, I’d say Dante Fabbro will impress the coaching staff and fans just as much as he already has in his brief career.
— Featured image via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports —