Canucks Army draft prospect profile #8 – Robby Fabbri

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.

Position: C
Height: 5’10”
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:

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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:

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(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.)

Robby Fabbri
Cam 9
Dimitri 10
Josh 11
Rhys 9
Thomas 15


      • Barnabas

        “The Canucks’ selection will be the player still on the draft board that scored the most points in their 17 year old CHL season that was for-realsies taken between Vancouver’s selection and Vancouver’s subsequent selection.”

        As others have pointed out, there is no way to know this at the time the selection was/is made.

        Hopefully Sham 2.0 is slightly less useless…

  • Barnabas

    Just wondering:
    “Having all five voters rank him boosted the overall score”

    If one of the 5 evaluators (Josh) did not provide rankings for non-CHL players, would the average scores for each player not be a better measure to use than overall scores?

    • Nah. Prospects were ranked 1 through 20, with a 1st place vote garnering 20 points, 2nd place vote getting 19, etc:

      Otherwise, I could rank Jaedon Descheneau 1st on my own ballot and despite nobody else ranking him, he’d finish with a higher average than everybody.

  • I’m not usually the type to harp on about size but I do feel that his play style doesn’t lend itself well to going up against larger opponents. You see him scoring a lot where the defenders have seriously poor gap control or where he’s been left wide open. As defenders get better and play a more physical game at higher levels, I expect his production will take a nosedive.

    I suspect he’s also obscured this sizeable shortcoming by being on a line with Rychel. Whenever the opposition tried to smother Rychel by outmanning him, he had the vision to dish it off to an open Fabbri who has a good release and quick hands. There’s a serious argument to be made that Mitchell and Rychel drove the Guelph offense and that Fabbri simply stayed open, kept the cycle going and banged in the garbage.