Robby Fabbri, Nikita Scherbak and how QoT can impact draft stock

What follows is a guest post written by @bryan_nikkel and @moneypuck_ on the subject of how playing for an excellent team in the CHL impacts player production, which in turn impacts how teams and scouts value draft eligible players. Are there any hidden gems leading the attack with little help for overmatched CHL teams whom the Canucks might target with the second round pick?

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

There has been a lot of talk this summer about the correlation between scoring in junior and success in the NHL, most notably the Sham Sharron draft, which got a ton of attention . With that in mind, a lot of people are looking at the CHL’s top point getters with an eye on the June 27th draft.

Here is a list of the top draft eligible CHL players in terms of points per game.

Sherback Fabbri

Not surprisingly, consensus top five picks Sam Reinhart, Leon Draisaitl, Sam Bennett, and Michael Dal Colle topped the CHL in point per game this year, and high PPG players like Robby Fabbri have seen their stock soar (Fabbri – 8th per ISS and Canucks Army).

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

There are so many factors that lead to success and production. Much has been written about how teammates can effect perception. We’ve seen Ehlers be discounted due to Drouin being on his team. The hyperbole surrounding Ehlers has been debunked, however, there are players that do benefit greatly from being on powerhouse teams, just as there are some players being overlooked in bad situations. Because the CHL doesn’t have nearly the same level of parity we see in the NHL, the impact can be extreme.

This write up will focus on two players in very opposite situations, Robby Fabbri of the Memorial Cup runner up Guelph Storm, and Nikita Scherbak of the rebuilding Saskatoon Blades.

Let’s look at potential top 10 pick Robby Fabbri and potential second round pick, Nikita Scherbak in more depth:

Name: Robby Fabbri Nikita Scherbak
Team: Guelph Storm Saskatoon Blades
Position: C RW
DOB: 22-Jan-96 30-Dec-95
Height: 5’10 6’2
Weight: 165 174

Fabbri has the size and skill package of a player that was a steal in last year’s draft, Nicolas Petan. He’s a little bigger and more inclined to score though, but both are shifty, skilled pivots.

Scherbak has a big 6’2 frame, but has some filling out to do. He’s rangy and uses his size well. Nikita is a dynamic player who generates offense from every angle, and attacks as well off the rush through the neutral zone, as from within the offensive zone.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Team Impact

Guelph Storm 68 340 191 5 2.8
Saskatoon Blades 72 207 317 2.9 4.4

Robby Fabbri 58 45 42 87 1.5
Niita Sherbak 65 28 50 78 1.2

The OHL champions and Memorial Cup Finalist Storm were absolutely loaded with talent this year, scoring 74% more goals per game than Saskatoon. Guelph had six forward who scored more than 1 point per game, whereas Saskatoon had 1 by the end of the season – Nikita Scherbak.

Here is the even strength goals for and against for Fabbri’s linemates with him and without him:

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Picture 14

Fabbri and his linemates dominated this year. The results are a bit of a wash, with Kerby Rychel (CBJ 1st- 2013) and Zack Mitchell (undrafted) benefiting from playing with Fabbri, but Brock McGinn (CAR 2nd – 2012) did well without Robby. Fabbri wasn’t waterskiing behind his linemates, but he wasn’t carrying them either.

Fabbri’s fantastic season was in part thanks to the addition of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ 2013st round pick, Kerby Rychel, to his line. Here is a breakdown of Fabbri and Rychel’s scoring before and after the trade:

Fabbri GP G A Pts P/GM
Before Rychel Trade 19 12 14 26 1.37
After Rychel Trade 39 33 28 61 1.56
Total 58 45 42 87 1.5

In contrast, Saskatoon was very much in a rebuild this year, trading away two of their best overage forwards, Nathan Burns (undrafted) and Collin Valcourt (undrafted), in December. Here is the impact on Scherbak’s numbers before and after the Burns and Valcourt trades:

Nikita Scherbak GP G A Pts P/GM
Before Burns/Valcourt Trades 34 20 26 46 1.35
After Burns/Valcourt Trades 31 8 24 32 1.03

Interestingly, before the trades Scherbak and Fabbri were performing at roughly the same PPG pace (Fabbri 1.37 PPG, Scherbak 1.35 PPG), but when life was just about to get fun for Fabbri, things were about to get very difficult for Scherbak.

Here is the even strength goals for and against for Scherbak’s linemates with him and without him:

Picture 15

This table clearly shows how much of the heavy lifting Scherbak had to do this year, especially after Burns and Valcourt were traded, but the impact he had on his teammates is actually pretty incredible. Keep in mind this is a team where only 1 player managed more than 45 points this year, so the opponent’s game plan was pretty simple: shutdown Scherbak and you win. As a result, Scherbak faced the other team’s top defensive pairings night-in and night out, and still managed to end the year with 1.2 points/game.

Some see Fabbri at 1.5 PPG and assume he had a more impactful year than Scherbak at 1.2 PPG, but let’s look at this one more way. How much did each player contribute to his team’s scoring? Given that Guelph scored a ridiculous 5 goals per game, Fabbri was in on 30% of his team’s goals. Scherbak’s team, on the other hand, only managed 2.875 GPG, so his 1.2 PPG had him contributing to 41.7% of his team’s offense. That’s up there with Michael Dal Colle…a top 5 consensus pick.

Conclusion – the Tale of Two Trades:

The consensus draft rankings have Fabbri sneaking into the top 10 and Scherbak way back in the 20’s or later, despite both players scoring at the same clip for the first half of the year. Trades and team strength had them forge different paths to end the season, but you have to consider that when ranking players. This article isn’t a knock on Fabbri. He’s a legitimate 11-20 pick in our eyes. Scherbak might just be a top 10 player from this draft when people look back on it.

Scherbak is one of those players where looking deeper into his numbers helps to confirm the talent we see when watching him play. If he somehow slides to the Canucks at 36, this will be a guy we’ll be able to get pretty excited about.

Follow @bryan_nikkel and @moneypuck_ on Twitter.

  • jung gun

    Really good article. Giving some context to p/gm numbers is really important. Also enjoyed the focus on a player who is outside of the consensus top 15 or so

  • Arg

    Physically strong, with a good frame; needs to fill out a fair bit. Speedy skater, quick release. What do you think of Scherbak at #24, should that become available?

  • Arg

    I’d prefer to know the scoring rate they had with linemates by amount of time spent with their linemate, but I’m guessing the WHL doesn’t provide anything close to those kind of statistics.

    Considering the amount of time they spend with a team mate would probably impact how much they produced with them, though, it seems kind of important.

  • Arg


    Your guess is right. CHL stats in general are pretty weak. All we have to work with is the game sheets which basically show who was on ice for each goal, and that’s it. TOI can be estimated based upon on ice GF/GA, but its really more art than science.

    @Neil B

    I’d be pretty surprised if Scherbak slid past Tampa at 19. This is a textbook Stevie Y pick.

    He’s a great pick at 24, and if the Canucks somehow managed to grab him at 36 I’d be ecstatic.

  • Ragnarok Ouroboros

    Great article. We’re pretty excited having him at 26th overall! However, you can’t ignore that Fabbri has put up more EV goals per game than Stamkos in his draft year. Here’s an interesting statistical article on this:

    “His EV and goal-scoring numbers are surrounded only by great NHLers (and Reinhart/Bennett/Draisaitl). Why haven’t we heard much about him going top-10? Perhaps because he is only 5’10″ and played for a powerhouse team this season, who scored 340 goals. (That’s 100+ goals more than Ritchie’s and Dal Colle’s teams.) Still, that 0.53 EV goals-per-game is unreal. The only one above 0.42 who slipped past the 2nd overall pick in past 13 drafts (OHL/WHL forwards) was Skinner at 0.44…. And Fabbri is 0.53! Even though his team is loaded with talent, that is a great number– more impressive I’d say than Gagner’s 2.23 PPG and 0.26 EV GPG on a loaded team. (Easier to pick up cheap points on the power play for a powerhouse team than EV goals.)… Skinner, Ennis, and Eberle slipped in the draft largely because of size concerns after scoring 0.36-0.44 EV GPG. They all are good offensive weapons in the NHL now. If he slips to 20th-40th, some teams selecting 10th-19th could be full of regret in a few years…. Perhaps Fabbri becomes the first 5’10″ or smaller OHL/WHL forward to be selected top-10, since 2003.”

    The Blues got a steal with Fabbri, but I’m damn happy we got Scherbak. All is well in the world tonight.