While the rest of the hockey world learns just how playoff crazy the city of Nashville has become this NHL postseason, their most recent top draft pick gets to enjoy it as well as receive the lowdown from siblings who are living the experience in Music City.
Dante Fabbro just returned from his first year at Boston University and with oldest sister Gina living in Nashville after completing a nursing degree at nearby Austin Peay University (APU), he’s getting reports from the epicenter about the energy and enthusiasm of the Preds faithful. Middle sibling Sophia just completed her third year at APU and has also been able to get to a few Preds playoff games at Bridgestone Arena.
“Just from talking with my sisters and them going to games, they’ve told me being in that atmosphere is something they haven’t experienced before,” says Fabbro. “They said it’s an absolute blast down there; with it being playoffs, Gina’s been telling me about the buzz.”
Nashville’s success this postseason, which has seen them advance farther than any other Predators team before, has captured the imagination of the fans and drawn the attention of the hockey world. Fabbro is just as impressed as everyone else and he also gets to study the habits of players that he one day may be playing alongside.
“I think you look at their team as a whole, it’s a pretty impressive group,” said the 6-foot-1, 192-pound defenceman. “If I were narrow it down to one defenceman (to watch), it would be (Roman) Josi. He can really skate with the puck and just do everything.”
Fabbro has only been to Nashville once himself. That was last summer just after the NHL Draft where the Predators made him the 17th overall selection. He went to the Preds’ summer development camp with most of the team’s other top prospects but hasn’t been back. He and fellow Boston University freshman Patrick Harper, a fifth-round selection by Nashville last June, were able to take in most of the Preds playoff games from the dorms with the rest of their teammates on the BU campus before heading home for the summer.
“You have TVs in your dorm and if games are on, you’d watch them,” said Fabbro. “We’d watch every sport; if it was the world championships or whatnot, we’d watch that too. Guys know players on the teams.”
Playing for BU, which featured four first-round picks from the 2016 NHL Draft, and 10 NHL-drafted players overall, there is no shortage of connections to players at higher levels all over the hockey world. On top of that, two teammates from last season – Clayton Keller and Charlie McAvoy – signed with Arizona and Boston respectively and each saw NHL action including in the playoffs in the case of McAvoy.
To get to that level, Fabbro is focusing on his own game this offseason. Nashville’s player development coordinators, former NHLers Wade Redden and Scott Nichol, provide feedback throughout the season and together they’ve identified some specifics.
“Just my power in my skating, the ability to get the puck out quicker,” said Fabbro, who recorded 6-12-18 as a freshman and led the BU defence corps in goals. “We worked on keeping tight gaps and things like that, but speed with the puck… I have a plan to work on those things. Hopefully I’m able to add that into my game early in the season.”
But in the meantime, all the focus in the Fabbro household is on the Predators who currently lead the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 in the Western Conference finals.
“Definitely something my family looks forward to,” Fabbro says. “It’s kind of how I grew up; the family sits down and watches hockey.”
They’re just hoping to see six more Nashville victories.