June 18 2014 12:44PM
In yesterday's profile of Kasperi Kapanen, commenter JJ-T stated that "let's go with your pick [Kapanen] and see how we do against the Boston's [sic], LA's [sic] etc. [sic], you know, the cup contending type of teams. I do believe we're in the bottom percentile when it comes to size, no?"
I doubt the Canucks are in the bottom percentile when it comes to size. Percent literally comes from "per hundred" and there are only 30 teams in the league. The Canucks are in the bottom third when it comes to weight, yes, but not height. Size wasn't the Canucks issue last year. It was goal scoring, and, somewhat by coincidence, the five of us Canucks Army draft prognosticators have collectively identified several smallish, offensive forwards who can help the Canucks alleviate the major problem.
Which brings us to the 5'10" 165-lb Robby Fabbri of the Guelph Storm. We've ranked him 8th. Eeeep.
ROBERT (ROBBY) FABBRI - Guelph (OHL)
Weight: 165 lbs
Birthdate: January 22 1996
Fabbri would indubitably be one of Sham Sharron's favourite players. Including playoffs and the MasterCard Memorial Cup totals, Fabbri scored 121 points in 78 games this season, picked up the Wayne Gretzky 99 Award as the MVP of the OHL playoffs (won by Bo Horvat one year ago) and led a buzzsaw top six through the last stretch of the regular season and into the playoffs. Though Guelph wound up losing to Edmonton in the Memorial Cup finals, it can be argued they were the best junior hockey team in Canada this season, having come out of a very tough OHL Western Conference.
Fabbri skated mostly with another first rounder from last season: Kerby Rychel from Columbus. Rychel was sent to the Storm in a midseason trade and the two became one of the top duos in junior hockey. Steve Fitzsimmons, who covers the Storm as a play-by-play guy, recently tweeted that if Fabbri were three inches taller, he'd be going first overall:
My personal belief is if Fabbri was 6'1", he'd be the run-away 1st overall pick in the NHL Draft.— Steve Fitzsimmons (@playbyplayguy) June 16, 2014
That's probably a bit of a stretch, but Fabbri is sort of stuck around at the middle of some of these mocks and rankings. Some of it is presumably worthwhile: Fabbri had an okay rookie campaign with 33 points in 59 games, production which sort of lagged behind the other OHL top prospects such as Michael Dal Colle, Jared McCann, Josh Ho-Sang and Sam Bennett. It's good to wonder just how much Rychel influenced Fabbri's offence, particularly if you're making a pick based primarily on numbers and trying to find the "best" scoring 17-year-old.
Still, scouts are less about his skill and more about how he compensates for his size with his work ethic. Corey Pronman, ESPN's prospects guru, isn't known to give high rankings to players who "battle really well" and "will initiate contact" since usually, those players don't turn out tangibly better results than skilled players. Pronman, though, had him ranked 15th. Fabbri himself doesn't mind being a hair smaller than others in the class:
"It's an inspiration, the game's not all about size," Fabbri said of the changes that have taken place in the NHL since 2005, when he was a nine-year-old puck-chaser in Mississauga. "When you have small guys with big heart and grit, it's equal to being six-foot-five, when you're not scared to go into corners and play bigger than your size, I don't think it's a big deal at all."
In that same piece, linemate Rychel said Fabbri had the "heart of a lion and some of the best skill I've ever seen." Perhaps Robby isn't ready for the NHL just yet (although the author of that post did point out that similarly-sized Jeff Skinner waltzed into the NHL with one of the best 18-year-old campaigns we've seen in recent memory) but he'll be one of the best CHL players in 2014-15 in all likelihood, with a big role on the World Junior team come December.
Here is a six-minute video of solid OHL defending:
(Here you may be asking: 'why is Fabbri ranked 8th if nobody has him higher than 9th' and to you eagle-eyed readers, this is because he snuck ahead of Kasperi Kapanen, Kevin Fiala, and Sonny Milano, because Josh decided not to rank any non-CHL players other than William Nylander. Having all five voters rank him boosted the overall score.)