Nashville Predators: Why Dante Fabbro’s Future Remains Bright

Nashville Predators defenseman Dante Fabbro (57) Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Nashville Predators defenseman Dante Fabbro (57) Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

The future of the Nashville Predators looks unclear after another tough start, but Dante Fabbro‘s future shouldn’t be called into question just yet.

There’s been a lot of talk surrounding the Predators and their defensive lapses, especially on special teams and against high-quality opponents.

With all of the love that Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis tend to get at the top, the Predators have a lot of questions lining up behind those two. The biggest one is Fabbro.

Is the criticism fair that Fabbro is getting? He’s had somewhat of a rocky start to his season, but it’s important to remember that he’s just into his second full season in the NHL.

Fabbro remains a big part of Nashville Predators’ future

If you’re already losing hope in Fabbro, then you never had hope in him to begin with. While wanting to see progress from the young defender is fair, throwing the guy under the bus for the Predators’ problems isn’t.

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Fabbro’s NHL future remains bright, especially with the right players around him. Continue to learn behind Josi, Ellis and Ekholm the remainder of this season.

What’s next in Fabbro’s development is becoming a more regular contributor offensively. He has just 14 points through his first 79 NHL games, which just isn’t going to get it done as a top-four defenseman.

However, it’s quite normal for defenseman to start this slow offensively speaking. Fabbro is no different.

Before we start yanking the chord on Fabbro, let’s see how the rest of this season plays out for him.

The upcoming expansion draft will be interesting in this regard because the Predators can only protect three defenseman. Josi and Ellis being protected are givens, but who will be the third? It should be Fabbro, but that means Mattias Ekholm goes unprotected.

Ekholm and Fabbro haven’t meshed as well together as you’d like. At least not in terms of offensive production, but defensively they still bring a lot of good things to the table.

Deep dive into Fabbro’s numbers

Fabbro had 85 blocks and 54 hits last season while playing in 64 games. His first full season in the NHL. He’s off to a slower start all the way around this season, but there’s plenty of games left for him to turn things around.

You just can’t give up on a player this early in their career, especially considering a lot of the problems the Predators have had since he became a regular in the lineup have nothing to do with him.

Fabbro has the spotlight on him to be the next star defenseman in Nashville behind Josi and Ellis. This franchise has always been good at bringing up homegrown defensive players, and Fabbro is expected to be next in line.

This is where a lot of the criticism comes in for Fabbro. The expectations were already pretty high, and maybe he hasn’t lived up to those quite as fast as people would like. That’s fair, but also a little unrealistic.

Fabbro was perhaps rushed into a bigger role with Ekholm faster than he should’ve been. That may be true, but it will only help his development in the long run.

Fabbro should be on the third pairing with Matt Benning, and Mark Borowiecki should be on the second pairing with Ekholm. That will take some pressure off Fabbro as his game continues to grow.

A big issue for the Predators as a team is they’re giving up a lot of quality shots to the opponent. Josi and Ellis actually lead the team with the highest xGA, or the highest opponent shot quality that’s expected to become goals.

Fabbro’s xGA while on the ice is pretty high as well at 6.15, while the two lowest xGA among defensemen for the Predators are Borowiecki and Jarred Tinordi.

There’s always a lot of factors that go into a high or low xGA, but for now it looks like a team-wide problem that Fabbro is a part of. Again, at this early point in his NHL career, some of this is to be expected.

Interestingly enough, while Fabbro is on the ice he has one of the highest xGF’s, or expected goals for, on the team. The Predators are generating offensive scoring chances while he’s in, and now we need the luck to turn around.

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All eyes will be on the Nashville Predators in the next couple of weeks to see if they’re going to become major sellers and go into a much bigger rebuild. If that ends up being the case, what happens with Fabbro? He should remain a big part of the Predators’ future behind Josi and Ellis.