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World Championship

Fabbro preparing to earn full-time role with Predators next season

Defenseman prospect impressed in playoffs after turning pro

by Aaron Vickers / NHL.com Correspondent

KOSICE, Slovakia -- Dante Fabbro traveled far and wide this season to best prepare himself to earn a full-time role with the Nashville Predators next season.

Fabbro played 38 games in his junior season with Boston University, represented Canada at the Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland in December, turned pro and made his NHL debut with the Predators on March 30, played six games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in April, and is playing for Canada at the 2019 IIHF World Championship in Slovakia.

 

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"To say the least, this last year has been a pretty big whirlwind," said Fabbro, who at age 20 is the youngest defenseman on Canada's roster. "I played my last year at school, got to play in the Spengler Cup, signed in Nashville and came here at the end of the year. 

"Man, it's been a lot of fun. I've met a lot of great people along the way. Big thanks to all the guys at Nashville for helping me make that jump feel comfortable and making that next step."

Fabbro signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Predators on March 27, forgoing his senior season at Boston University, where he was captain. The signing came five days after the Terriers were eliminated in the semifinal of the Hockey East tournament by Northeastern. 

It was an anticipated jump for Fabbro, the No. 17 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.

"I always knew I could," said Fabbro, who set NCAA career-highs in assists (26) and points (33) this season and was named Hockey East Second Team All-Star for the second consecutive year. "Obviously you never know until you actually try. With Nashville being such a great team and such a good 'D' core, I just wanted to go in and learn as much I could. I think I did, from all those guys."

Fabbro was impressive in 10 games before the Predators were eliminated from the Western Conference First Round by the Dallas Stars in six games.

"He came up late…four regular-season games and then played in the playoffs right away," said Nashville defenseman Roman Josi, who is representing Switzerland at Worlds. "He's just really calm, great with the puck. He didn't seem to get nervous. It's a big stage playing in playoffs. He played really well, really calm."

Video: CHI@NSH: Fabbro picks the corner for first NHL goal

Paired primarily with veteran Dan Hamhuis, Fabbro scored one goal in the regular season and had one assist and a plus-2 rating in the playoffs. Predators defenseman Yannick Weber appreciated his ability to adapt. 

"It's definitely not an easy task," said Weber, also playing with Switzerland. "I know he played some pro at the Spengler Cup and he's still a prospect, but I feel like he can be really good. He's still so young. There's still so many steps he can take. I think it was good for him to get a taste of how he's going to be."

There's been plenty of growth in Boston, Davos, Nashville and now in Kosice. Each stop, Fabbro insisted, has made him a better, more prepared player. 

"My first taste (of professional hockey) was in the Spengler and getting to see all those guys and how they took care of themselves away from the rink and how they prepared for games," said Fabbro, who's scored one goal in four games at Worlds. "I took that and brought that back to BU and used that the last half of my season there. 

"I was really focused on doing everything I could to make sure I'm 100 percent confident in myself and my game to make that jump."

He'll use the experience to try to earn a regular place in Nashville's lineup next season.

"For me to use all that and bring it into the summer and focus on the things I need to work on and improve to hold a spot next year, that'll be very beneficial to me," Fabbro said. "My focus is on making that team next year and making an impact."

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