There's a reason one word comes before another when referring to a student athlete. Exhibit A: Dante Fabbro.
Nashville's first selection in the 2016 NHL Draft at No. 17 overall missed out on the first two days of this year's edition of Predators Development Camp due to the necessary completion of a couple of assignments back at Boston University - professors' orders.
But now, with his freshman year complete, the summer has officially begun for the 19-year-old defenseman, and with that comes a stop in Nashville to reconnect with the organization that brought him into the fold last June.
"It was good to get back here and get in the swing of things again," Fabbro said after his first on-ice session of the camp Thursday. "Just being on the ice with the guys was definitely nice."
Video: Fabbro reflects on first day at Development Camp
Fabbro admitted he was a bit winded after the skate, but he didn't show it, wiring home a handful of goals during a defensemen-only session at Centennial Sportsplex, drawing cheers from teammates and coaches.
While putting the puck in the net during practice may be a long way from doing so in game action, he found his way during his freshman season in the collegiate ranks. The British Columbia native potted six goals and 18 points in 36 games for the Terriers last season to go along with earning a silver medal with Canada at the World Junior Championship.
Indeed, Fabbro is already proving he comes as advertised, a reliable defenseman with a slew of offensive upside for an added bonus - a skill set that's only going to get better.
"For myself, it was a big learning curve for me," Fabbro said of his first year playing NCAA hockey. "Just being able to make that next step, hopefully to the National Hockey League one day, was good for me. I was able to work out lots, practice lots and the games were fast.
"Maybe my first year I was a little hesitant on doing things out there, but I'm ready to take on that role and be that offensive guy for our team."
That'll be music to the ears of Boston University fans, and potentially Preds fans in the not-so-distant future. Fabbro wants nothing more than to play in Nashville one day, and not just because he grew up a Preds fan to begin with.
His sisters, Gina and Sophia, have ties to the area, going to school and playing soccer for Austin Peay State University. Sophia is set to enter her senior season, and Gina, who recently graduated, works as a nurse in Nashville and Dante expects his older sister to be in attendance at Friday's Young Stars Game at Bridgestone Arena.
"It's definitely nice; they know the lay of the land a lot better than I do," Fabbro said of his family ties to Middle Tennessee. "It'll be good to see [Gina] and reconnect that way. [Nashville] is kind of a home away from home with my sisters, and I'm definitely trying to [play here] one day."
If it happens, he will have likely learned a thing or two from those currently patrolling the blue line for the Preds. Fabbro says he was of course tuned in to Nashville's postseason run, particularly focused on the play of the top four of Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, P.K. Subban and Mattias Ekholm.
"I want to be myself and grow and develop as my own kind of player, but I think the biggest thing for me was taking bits and parts of the Nashville D corps," Fabbro said. "They're the top D in the League and I'm kind of implementing [those elements] into my game. But you have to grow as a player and that's what I'm doing in college right now. Hopefully I'll be able to make that step [to Nashville] in the next couple of years."
Fabbro is constantly in touch with Predators Player Development Directors Scott Nichol and Wade Redden, stating that he and Nichol have spoken once or twice a week during the offseason, discussing everything from on-ice habits to off-ice work ethic.
The plan for now is to continue at BU, but it'll be people like Nichol and Redden, as well as a host of others, working to help Fabbro attain his dream of one day playing in the NHL - just as long as he has all of his assignments completed first.
"Ultimately it's up to Nashville when they want to bring me in, but I want to play here," Fabbro said. "That's my goal and I'm set on playing here. It's definitely the place I want to play and start my hockey career."