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Predators' Fabbro hopes to follow Weber's footsteps

Nashville's 2016 first-round pick grew up fan of top defenseman

by Robby Stanley / Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- Defenseman Dante Fabbro said he grew up a fan of the Nashville Predators because of defenseman Shea Weber.

That made it all the much sweeter when the Predators selected Fabbro with the 17th pick of the 2016 NHL Draft.

"A big thing was I watched Shea Weber quite a bit," Fabbro said Wednesday during Predators development camp. "That just goes with the territory I think. Obviously me liking Shea Weber and growing up to kind of idolize him, the team just kind of followed along with it."

Fabbro watched the way Weber played and tried to model some of his own game after the three-time Norris Trophy finalist. Weber has been regarded as one of the best two-way defensemen in the League for years, and his slap shot has become legendary. Fabbro said he wants to add some of those elements to his game, beginning this fall at Boston University.

"Obviously he's a two-way [defenseman], so that's something I'd like to be one day," Fabbro said. "I think in the last couple of years I've kind of developed my game as that, but I know there's a lot of work. I'm fortunate to go to Boston University next year and work on those things."

Fabbro had 67 points (14 goals, 53 assists) in 45 games with Penticton of the British Columbia Hockey League this season and was named the top defenseman in the BCHL. He was No. 18 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2016 draft.

Fabbro's decision to attend college did not deter Predators general manager David Poile from selecting him. Nashville had drafted forward Jimmy Vesey in the third round (No. 66) in the 2012 draft, but after four years at Harvard University and numerous enticements by the Predators, he told the team he would not sign with them. Nashville traded his rights to the Buffalo Sabres for a 2016 third-round pick June 20.

"Unfortunately you see a lot of teams, because of the Vesey thing and a couple of other players, you see teams arguably taking their players out of college maybe a year early to try to entice them with a contract so they don't have to face that situation," Poile said. "If [Fabbro] is a good player after a couple of years, we'll certainly approach him. If he needs four years, then we'll wait."

Video: Predators draft D Dante Fabbro No. 17

Fabbro said he is open to beginning his professional career as soon as the Predators feel he's ready. He said both sides need to be comfortable with the situation when that time comes.

"I think right now I'm taking it year-by-year," he said. "I'm going there to be a hockey player. I want to make the NHL. I want to play in the NHL someday. If that's after two years, then it's after two years. I'll be glad to come here. It's just one of those things. I think Nashville has to feel comfortable with me coming in and I have to feel comfortable, too. It goes both ways, but obviously it's Nashville's call for sure."

Weber is one of a number of high-end NHL defensemen the Predators have drafted and developed over the years, and Fabbro said he hopes to develop his game to where he's able to join that list.

"You can see their [defense] corps pretty much right from the start, they build it from the goalie out," Fabbro said. "It's definitely an awesome place to play, and obviously it's a hot spot for [defensemen] too. I was pretty stoked I got drafted here, and obviously there's a lot of great guys here too. It's definitely a process, and I'm ready to go for sure."

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