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Fabbro eyes place in Predators defenseman fraternity

Prospect hoping to be next in line among Nashville blue line elite

by Robby Stanley / Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- Where there is Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis, the Nashville Predators hope one day there will be Dante Fabbro.

The Predators have a history of drafting and developing quality NHL defensemen, and if past performance is any indication, Fabbro, the No. 17 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, could find himself in very good company.

The fact Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber and Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter also were drafted and developed by the Predators makes Fabbro, 19, even more eager to embark on a similar path with Nashville.

"You definitely take that into account," Fabbro said during Predators development camp last month. "It's honestly quite impressive. Just to kind of be a part of that and see the things that they had to go through to be there, it's definitely a special feeling and not a lot of people get to be a part of such a place that develops these kind of [defensemen] into the players they are today."

Last season was one of transition for Fabbro (6-foot, 189 pounds). As a freshman at Boston University, he had 18 points (six goals, 12 assists) in 36 games while adjusting to life as a college hockey player.

"I just felt overall for myself, it was a big learning curve for me in kind of just being able to make that next step hopefully to the National Hockey League," he said. "I was able to work out lots, obviously practice lots. The games were fast and grinding, so it was definitely a good experience for me."

Fabbro believes he will be more comfortable heading into his sophomore season and will try to be more of an impact player on the offensive end.

"I think overall I've got to up my game," he said. "Maybe in my first year I was maybe a little hesitant on doing things out there. But I'm definitely ready to take on that role and be that offensive guy for the team."

Fabbro kept a close eye on Nashville's march to its first Stanley Cup Final last season, and focused on the offensive contributions made by the defensemen. Josi, Ellis, P.K. Subban and Ekholm ranked second, third, fifth and sixth, respectively, in playoff scoring among defensemen, and Josi's six goals were the most by a defenseman in the playoffs.

"It was definitely very cool," Fabbro said. "I was going to try and make it down here for the Final but obviously with my school schedule it didn't work out too well. But I was watching every step of the way and just learning from their [defense] corps. Obviously they have such a great [defense] corps here and it's definitely special to be a part of this organization. And hopefully someday I'm going to try and work toward being a part of it."

With a return to Boston University already planned, Fabbro is unsure when he will sign a professional contract.

"I don't know right now, but it's not really up to me," he said. "Ultimately it's up to Nashville when they want to bring me in. I want to play here and that's my goal and I'm set on playing here. I have some family down here too, so it's definitely the place I want to play and start my hockey career."

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