DETROIT -- When the Detroit Red Wings acquired Robby Fabbri from the St. Louis Blues for Jacob de la Rose on Nov. 6, 2019, the hope was Fabbri would be a young player who would have a chance to blossom into a key figure in the team's plan to rebuild.
In the 82 games he has played as a member of the Wings, the forward has scored 24 goals -- including eight game winners -- tallied 25 assists and has a shooting percentage of 14.8 percent.
Fabbri's 10 goals during the 2020-21 season was second on the team and his plus-3 rating was tied for the team lead with Luke Glendening and Danny DeKeyser.
"Very excited. I've never been traded before, but I didn't know that was going to be the feeling, being excited to come to this group," Fabbri said on March 18. "It's been great. Ever since I've been here, and it just keeps getting better and better. As the team is gelling together here, like I said, it's been a lot of fun."
It did not take long for Fabbri, who signed a two-year contract on Aug. 24, 2020, to show his knack for notching game-winning goals for the Red Wings. In the second game of the season on Jan. 16 against the eventual Central Division-champion Carolina Hurricanes, Fabbri broke a 2-2 tie with 2:42 remaining in the third period to help the Red Wings pick up their first win of the season.
Video: CAR@DET: Fabbri, Zadina team up for late lead
But two days later, Fabbri was placed on the NHL's COVID-19 protocol list and would miss the next eight games. It was the first of two extended absences for Fabbri this past season, as the forward also missed the final 17 games with an upper-body injury.
Despite the season-ending injury and circumstances of playing during a global pandemic hitting home for Fabbri, Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill appreciated the blend of skill and effort that the forward brought each day.
"He competes hard. He can score. Those are two things that he does well," Blashill said. "I think he's always been a guy from the very first day we got him that showed us he can score on one shot. Some guys need tons of shots to be able to score and some guys have the ability to score on one shot and he does it different ways. I think he brings a good edge and he really competes hard. When Robby is playing his best, he's super competitive."
Video: CAR@DET: Fabbri rockets home Larkin's backhand set-up
When Fabbri returned from the COVID-19 protocol list, his return to the lineup helped the Red Wings move past an early eight-game winless streak (0-6-2) and be a team that was happy to make games difficult for their Central Division rivals.
In particular, a five-game stretch against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Hurricanes and Dallas Stars at Little Caesars Arena from March 9-18 showed the kind of impact that Fabbri can provide offensively.
With the Red Wings going 3-1-1 in those five games, Fabbri scored five goals, added an assist and was a combined plus-5. The crowning achievement was a natural hat trick against the Stars on March 18 that supplied all the offense in a 3-2 win.
"You grow up dreaming of stuff like that, and it always makes you feel better when it comes in a big win against a great team," Fabbri said after the game against Dallas. "We're just putting our heads down and coming every day to work to get better. With that mindset, it's showing throughout our games and throughout the lineup."
Video: DAL@DET: Fabbri scores all 3 goals for the Red Wings
The five-game spark that Fabbri helped provide was a springboard to an improved second half which saw the Red Wings finish 12-11-7 over their final 30 games and show the rebuild is moving in the right direction.
The 25-year-old forward has certainly lived up to the expectations that he would be an important piece for the team.
"My mind's here and here with this group and getting better each and every game," Fabbri said. "Working and trying to get this rebuild started. We're taking some big steps here and the biggest thing is consistency and we've been showing it and we've got to keep it going."