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Preds Believe Fabbro Ready to Play Full Time at NHL Level

Nashville Blueliner Earns Praise from Teammates Ahead of 2019-20 Season

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Senior Communications & Content Coordinator

Like most hockey players, Dante Fabbro is a humble guy.

If you were to ask him what he expects his role to be with the Nashville Predators this season, he'd tell you he's just simply trying to earn a full-time spot with the club.

However, with all due respect to Fabbro, he may be the only one in the entire organization with that vision.

It seems to be not a matter of if the defenseman will make the team, but rather who will he play with and for how many minutes a night? He was that good for the Preds when he made his debut last spring, and he looks that good again.

The 21-year-old from the Vancouver area is expected to be the next great blueliner to be drafted and developed by the Predators. He's already shown flashes, and those around him figure it won't be long until he's starring night after night in Nashville.

"You can tell when a guy really has it from the start, when you meet him and when he comes in," defenseman Mattias Ekholm said of Fabbro. "He played a couple of games last year, and you can tell right away that he's not afraid of the stage and not afraid of the level. He has the capability to go out there right away to make a difference."

The Predators expect he'll do just that this season, especially now that P.K. Subban is no longer a member of the club. Fabbro has been posed the question in recent days during Predators training camp as to whether or not he views himself as a replacement for the former Nashville d-man, but the rookie isn't about to change who he is now that he's just coming into his own.

Video: Dante Fabbro ready for larger role with Preds

"Everyone is up for a challenge, and I am as well," Fabbro said. "The thing is, I think [Subban and I] are two different players, and I'm going to bring to the team what I brought in the past - that two-way, stout D-man. I'm not trying to stray away from somebody who I'm not, I'm just going to stick to my game and try and help this team win."

Hear that? Not only is his hockey sense off the charts, his maturity level is too.

"Sometimes, when you get into the League, you feel like you've got to change stuff, but for him, I feel like he's just played his game and been comfortable with his game," Ekholm said. "That's enough on this level, and what I've seen so far, I think his game is more than enough and he's more than capable of playing in this League on a high role."

That role may in fact come alongside Ekholm this season if the Predators elect to make Fabbro one of their top-four defensemen on Opening Night. Subban skated alongside Ekholm last season, and a new-look pair with the Swede and Canadian may make sense.

There are other options as well, and the Predators are exploring those as training camp continues. Fabbro and Ekholm skated together during Saturday's practice, but on Tuesday, the former Boston University Terrier captain was with Preds Captain Roman Josi.

His defensive partner is ultimately out of Fabbro's control, but the individuals who will make the final call have his best interests in mind.

"We're going to give him as much as he can handle, but I think we've got other veterans that can move up and play left side or right side if we need to, so hopefully we have the right setup that allows him to be successful," Predators General Manager David Poile said of Fabbro. "Based on how I've seen him in the rookie camp for one game, how I see him today, he looks really good, and I think maybe we won't have enough for him to handle.

"We always are a little cautious with our younger players and put them in that position to be successful in that type of situation… But Fabbro looks really good to us at the outset here."

When the Predators selected Fabbro 17th overall in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft, they envisioned he would one day become a regular on their backend. It seems that time has arrived, and it seemingly won't be long before Fabbro is turning heads and reaping praise from around the League.

And speaking of compliments, how's this from one of the world's best defenseman?

"Dante's going to do what makes him so good, and you saw that last year with what he did and the way he played," Josi said. "He looks really good out there. He's a great player, and I know he's going to be really good for us."

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