Before he heard the Nashville Predators call his name at number 17 overall on Friday night, defenseman Dante Fabbro listed the Predators as his favorite team and captain Shea Weber as his favorite player.
“It’s a little weird,” Fabbro said with a smile. “To be drafted by the same team, it’s definitely a cool moment for me and I know my family feels the same way.”
The North Westminster, British Columbia native played in 45 games for the Penticton Vees of the BCHL last season, amassing 67 points. His impressive campaign earned him the league’s top defenseman award. And while it’s not the Canadian Hockey League, Fabbro believes it shouldn’t be looked down upon.
“It might get overlooked sometimes but it’s a great league,” he said. “I think people are starting to take notice of that. I had a great experience with it and, if other kids were to go there, they would too.”
His Penticton teammate, center Tyson Jost, was chosen number 10 overall by the Colorado Avalanche.
Those days with the Vees are over, however, as he’s onto Boston University.
“It’s going to be an awesome year at BU,” Fabbro said. “It’s been something I’ve been looking forward to for a while. To have [Clayton] Keller and [Kieffer] Bellows and [Charlie] McAvoy and all those guys in there, it’s going to be something special for sure.”
The three players he mentioned? All first rounders on Friday night. Keller to the Arizona Coyotes at number seven overall, Bellows to the New York Islanders two picks after Fabbro and McAvoy to the Boston Bruins at 14.
- RELATED READING
What do the experts say about Dante Fabbro?
With names like Weber, Roman Josi, Ryan Suter, Dan Hamhuis, Kevin Klein, Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis and Kimmo Timonen on their development resume, the Predators have long been a blueline factory. Fabbro feels like he’s just been selected by a team that puts him in the best possible situation for his career.
“That’s something I definitely talked about with my dad,” the 18-year old said. “I’m completely humbled and honored to be a part of this organization and hopefully, in the future, I can make an impact.”
Nashville General Manager David Poile mentioned after Friday’s festivities that the team had a list of 17 players at the top of their board before a large gap. While he wouldn’t disclose the ranking of those players, he did mention that Fabbro was “higher up on the list.”
“We were really happy with our list, one through 17,” he said. “We had 17 players rated and they were all gone. Fabbro was the last player [of those 17]. Now, it didn’t go in that order but he was the last player [available]. You have different cutoffs each year in the draft and that was a clear and distinct cutoff for us. We kind of thought we would get the last player on our list and that’s exactly what happened.”
So what kind of player is Fabbro? After all, Middle Tennessee doesn’t get a lot of Penticton hockey games on television.
“He’s a good all-around defenseman,” Poile explained. “He can play in all situations and he’s very smart. Hockey sense is right at the top of the list. This should be a guy, if he develops the way we feel he should in the next few years, should be a top four defenseman. Two, three or four years down the road, this could be the type of guy who’s perfect to move into our lineup.”
So what’s next for Poile and the Predators this weekend? Saturday features rounds two through seven and the GM thinks there may be some fireworks.
“We’ve identified some players that we want to get and we’ve identified some natural ‘breaks’ in the [talent level],” Poile said. “I think you might see a little bit more action from us tomorrow based on the availability of players and just how the draft breaks. We’re organized and we’re prepared.”
That’s where that recent acquisition of the extra third round pick comes in.
“It gives us a little more flexibility,” Poile said. “I always find, when you have those multiple picks — especially if they’re almost back-to-back like 76 and 78 — I think you go for a little bit more of the home run when you have those extra picks. Some of them are strike outs but once in a while you get a home run. That’s what we’re going to try to do tomorrow.”
Let the fireworks begin.
PHOTO CREDIT: Jeremy K. Gover