Nashville Predators Midseason Grades: Dante Fabbro

Nashville Predators defenseman Dante Fabbro (57) attempts a shot during the first period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Nashville Predators defenseman Dante Fabbro (57) attempts a shot during the first period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

The future remains very bright for Dante Fabbro on the Nashville Predators. As the rebuild looms he’ll be an important piece to the team staying relevant and competitive.

It’s hard to believe that Fabbro is in the midst of just his second full-time season in the NHL. He posted 64 games last season, and some of the results were underwhelming in the offensive part of his game.

Some people are already giving up on Fabbro, and to me that just doesn’t make much sense. How many young defenseman shy of their 23rd birthday show this kind of growth in such a bad team situation around them?

Dante Fabbro’s role with the Nashville Predators

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Jumping back to the present time, Fabbro has become much more integral to this team that’s in transition. I expect him to stick around into next season, but that’s not a foregone conclusion with the expansion draft also coming later this summer.

We’ve seen Fabbro move throughout the defensive lineup for the Predators with the lengthy IR stays that Mattias Ekholm, Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis all have had. Josi and Ellis remain on IR currently.

The Predators haven’t been a beacon of light when it comes to playing sound defensive hockey, especially against the top teams in the division. But Fabbro has held his own during a tough season despite still being such a young and inexperienced player with less than 100 games of NHL experience.

Check out what Fabbro told Justin Bradford of Penalty Box Radio back in February about having different defensive linemates constantly and how that’s been a challenge:

Fabbro’s offensive game is showing modest improvement this season, but nothing too groundbreaking, either. I like what I’m seeing out of his puck possession metrics. His Corsi is up to 51.8 this season, which is a decent improvement from last season.

You love to see Fabbro show improvement in possessing the puck and making things happen, and you hope we continue to see that occur through the remainder of this season.

Modest improvement in Fabbro’s offensive game

Another area where Fabbro is getting more aggressive in his play is getting shots on goal. He’s up to 49 shots on goal, which is well ahead of his pace in his rookie season when he amassed 92 shots on goal through 64 games.

This game-winning goal from Fabbro against Detroit Red Wings was a perfect example of him getting more comfortable in his offensive game, and just creating scoring chances for a team that’s been very limited in this area through the first half:

You’d like to see Fabbro’s shooting percentage increase as it sits way down at 4.1 percent, but as his game further develops in the coming seasons I’d expect his offensive game to get more fluid.

Fabbro has also had some lapses this season with turning the puck over and gifting the opposition with prime scoring chances. Quite frankly that’s been an issue with this entire team, so that area needs to be cleaned up.

Just before Fabbro’s two-game suspension for a blow to the head in a game against Carolina, he was playing really solid hockey. Since returning from the suspension, he’s kept up that strong play.

Defensively I think Fabbro has been good, but not great for the Predators. He’s usually in the right position to make a block or deny a skater from easy entry into the zone. He’s come up big in crucial moments to help his goaltender.

If anyone remembers the crucial stick save he made against in the win over Tampa Bay, it’s one that’s worth a watch:

Fabbro’s midseason grade isn’t perfect and there are still blemishes in his game, but he’s showing growth in his game. He gets a respectable grade from me.

B. . Defenseman. Nashville Predators. DANTE FABBRO

There is still plenty of room for improvement for the 22-year-old Fabbro. He’s still very young to be thrown into such a major role for the Predators’ defensive core. I’ve seen enough from him this season so far to feel confident that his future in Predators Gold is promising.

Mattias Ekholm. light. Predators Midseason Grades

As the second half of the season unfolds, Fabbro should finish off what will be an improved season from his rookie season. That’s all you can really ask for in a season like this, and preferably he’s kept around for the long-term future as a second pairing defenseman behind Josi and Ellis.