Nashville Predators: Big Step Forward Needed from Dante Fabbro in Playoffs

Dante Fabbro #57 of the Nashville Predators (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Dante Fabbro #57 of the Nashville Predators (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /

Several players on the Nashville Predators already have accomplished NHL careers. Dante Fabbro, on the other hand, is needed to take it to the next level.

A big reason to have high confidence in the chances for the Nashville Predators in the qualifying round and beyond is due to all of the accomplished veterans they have.

The Predators are deep with playoff experience, but also have a couple players ready to take the next step. None more so than Dante Fabbro, who has been getting valuable NHL experience on the team’s second defensive pairing.

Fabbro made his NHL debut in March 2019 against the Columbus Blue Jackets putting in over 16 minutes of ice time and playing very well defensively. He’s gradually been progressing since then.

Gradual improvement

Keeping patience in mind with the 22-year-old, Fabbro is an important piece to the Predators in the upcoming qualifying round, and hopefully beyond that in the round of 16.

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I’ve been pretty happy with Fabbro’s progression. He’s been asked to grow up fast alongside mostly veteran Mattias Ekholm. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but Fabbro has shown that he belongs in the NHL regularly.

Fabbro was up against some rather intense pressure of filling the heavy skates of P.K. Subban coming into the 2019-20 season. He was injected into a much more critical role on the defense, and at times the defense has been a big issue for the Predators.

Some of this can be attributed to growing pains for Fabbro, the injury to Ryan Ellis, and also the systematic issues with the previous coaching regime.

John Hynes is head coach now for the Predators, and Fabbro might be ready to excel much more under a different head coach. He doesn’t have to light the scoreboard up to take it to the next level, but he does need to show more offensive flare and execution.

At the very least, Fabbro has to be an above-average defender in this series against Arizona. He can’t be a liability on such an elevated position of the roster. Especially considering all of the uncertainty on the pairing below him on the depth chart.

This is why I have Fabbro as one of the x-factors of the series. He absolutely cannot regress into an inexperienced defender that lacks confidence in this series just because his playoff experience is minimal. He has the skills to be a well-rounded defensive player that can make the Predators defense a formidable one again.

Confidence and talent is there

Against an offensively bland team like the Coyotes, Fabbro should match well in this series. He’s a smart defensive player for his young age. Critical mistakes and gaffes don’t happen too often despite his youth.

However, if your expectations for the Predators is to make noise past the qualifying round, then Fabbro is going to be needed more so than just a defender that’s in the right place and avoids big mistakes.

The Predators are going to need Fabbro to make a bigger impact offensively by moving the puck up the ice and generating chances for the top forwards. No one is expecting him to instantly turn into Roman Josi, but his assists numbers and offensive metrics have to take a step forward.

More of this is needed from Fabbro, even if he doesn’t always bury the goal. Create offensive pressure so that the forwards can take control in the zone. This play came back in December against the New Jersey Devils as Fabbro drove the net and was aggressive:

Fabbro was kind of invisible over the last ten games before the pause by not registering a point and having a few games where he didn’t find much ice time, either. That trend can’t trickle into the series with Arizona. He’s going to be needed to log valuable ice time defensively to keep Arizona’s offense in check, at the very least.

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There’s plenty of reason for optimism for Fabbro’s future with the Predators. He doesn’t appear to be trending backwards by any means, but now is the time you hope to see him take that next step forward as a critical part of the Predators’ defensive core among three very talented NHL veteran defensemen in the top-four depth chart.