After being a top-10 pick in the WHL Bantam Draft, Dante Fabbro has taken the road less traveled, heading to the BCHL in order to maintain his college eligiblity. Playing in the Tier II junior league on a dominant Penticton team made it a bit difficult to judge just how good of a player Fabbro. But his performance in a trio of international events for Canada this past year left little doubt that Fabbro is one of the top defensemen available in this year's Draft.
Player: Dante Fabbro
Team: Penticton Vees(BCHL)
Height: 6'0" Weight: 192 lbs.
Stats: 45 games, 14 goals, 53 assists, 67 points
Final NHL Central Scouting rank: 18th among North American skaters
What I Like:
-A+ hockey intelligence
Fabbro's best asset is his head. He's a really smart player that can think two or three steps ahead of everybody else. He knows what he wants to do with the puck before it comes to him and that allows him to move the puck to a teammate before the defense can react. In this example, Fabbro takes a pass, moves laterally, and finds an open teammate in the slot all in one motion:
-Poised and patient
Fabbro never rushes or forces things when he has the puck. He has the type of patience that only comes with extreme confidence in his abilities. He can possess the puck and wait for the right opportunity. In this example, rather than trying to force a shot through from the point, he waits until he has an open lane to get his shot on net.
Fabbro has the ability to handle hard passes cleanly, makes crisp passes, and uses his strong stick to break up plays in the defensive zone.
-Great lateral movement
Fabbro moves east-west very well. He's got the ability to walk the blue line with the puck to create open passing lanes and shooting angles for himself. Here's an example of him alluding a shot blocker to get a shot through to the net.
-Good one-on-one defender
Fabbro is a smart, efficient defender that manages his gaps well one-on-one. His overall defensive game is still developing, but he's got the basics down, and should continue to develop in that area.
What I Don't Like:
-Lacks high-end speed
Fabbro is much more likely to push the play up the ice with a good pass rather than with his skating. He lacks the high-end foot speed to be the type of defenseman that rushes up and down the ice and really affects play with his skating.
For a power play specialist, Fabbro lacks a big cannon from the point. His shot is good enough, and he's smart enough that he's going to get a higher percentage of his shot attempts through to the net than most players, but he's not going to be a big goal scorer because he really beats the goalie from the point.
Fabbro is grouped in with the top four or five defensemen available in this Draft. They should all go between fourth and 18th in the first round. There's a very good chance Fabbro might be the best of the group, but most mock drafts seem to place him at the end of that group and closer to 18th. I personally put Fabbro 12th overall, but I think it's more likely he'll be picked somewhere around 15th.
Fabbro might have the highest upside of any defenseman in the Draft, because he is the smartest defenseman available. Given some time to mature physically--which he'll be able to do at Boston University next year--Fabbro could be a special player. He's definitely got a future as a power play quarterback in the NHL, and should be capable of playing big minutes.