DETROIT – Robby Fabbri was a star with the OHL’s Guelph Storm.
In his second season with Guelph in 2013-14, Fabbri scored 45 goals and 42 assists for 87 points in 58 games played. He was pegged as a top forward prospect coming out of juniors, and that summer he was drafted 21st overall by the St. Louis Blues.
The next season he scored 51 points in 30 games played with the Storm, and also spent a few games in the AHL. The Blues had him up for his rookie season in 2015-16, and Fabbri did not disappoint. He scored 37 points during the season, but it was his playoff performance that really turned heads -- 15 points in 20 playoff games.
Suddenly, his burgeoning NHL career was halted by two serious knee injuries. It all started in February 2017 when he was put into the boards awkwardly by Pittsburgh Penguins forward Carter Rowney. He left the game and didn’t return for the rest of the season.
He underwent surgery to repair his ACL (twice) and missed the entire 2017-18 season.
Fabbri, 23, has been trying to get back into the Blues lineup for the past two seasons. He played limited time last season (32 games), but he did play 10 playoff games during the team’s run to a Stanley Cup championship.
Things were starting to trend in a better direction for the young forward. This season, however, has not gone his way. He was getting healthy scratched on most nights and when he did crack the lineup he was getting less than 10 minutes of ice time.
He needed a way out of St. Louis.
Fresh start in Detroit
In stepped Steve Yzerman. The Detroit Red Wings GM is watching his team firmly secure their place at the bottom of the league and looking for more pieces for the future. He’s giving Fabbri a chance to become the top-six forward he was when he first came into the league. The Red Wings need players, and with the way this season is going they can afford to mix it up and try out new players.
Fabbri has shown he has the speed and skill to play alongside Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Tyler Bertuzzi (a former teammate of his in Guelph) and Adreas Athanasiou. He has more than enough incentive to try to make this work -- his career is depending on it. Fabbri, remember, is under a cheap one-year deal. He will become a restricted free agent at the end of this season, and Yzerman can decide what steps to take next. He might even decide to flip him at the deadline.
But I imagine Yzerman would rather keep Fabbri with this group if he does perform well. He fits in nicely with the Red Wings corps group -- just one of many from the 2013-2015 draft classes.
It’s the same thing Yzerman is doing with Brendan Perlini, another 2014 first-round pick who is looking to prove he can play on the first or second line of an NHL team.