The Nashville Predators have a wealthy prospect pool, especially along the blue line. Two defensemen who have impressed at the college level are David Farrance and Dante Fabbro. The sophomore and junior, respectively, have found themselves together on the Boston University Terriers’ top defense pair this season.
With Fabbro on the right side and Farrance on the left, the Predators could benefit from a pair of prospects honing their skills while developing chemistry with one another. In the first semester of the 2018-19 season, both blueliners proved themselves as valuable assets and continue to make arguments for eventual NHL entry-level contracts when they hang up their college skates.
Fabbro, a New Westminister, British Columbia native, played two full seasons in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) with the Penticton Vees. In 89 games with the squad, he put up 18 goals and 82 assists. The blueliner also appeared in 32 BCHL postseason matches, notching four goals and 19 assists. His performance turned heads by the time the 2016 NHL Entry Draft came knocking in which Fabbro was selected 17th overall by the Predators.
During his freshman year at BU, he impressed with six goals and 12 assists through 36 games during the 2016-17 season. He followed this up with a nine-goal and 20-assist performance as a sophomore. Now he is one of BU’s captains and, with the first leg of his junior season behind him, we are starting to see just how high the defenseman is capable of flying.
Fabbro has three goals and 10 assists in 16 games this season, seeing time on the first defense pair and top powerplay unit. In these situations, the junior acts as a quarterback, setting up his teammates for prime scoring opportunities and dictating the pace of play. He also isn’t afraid to barrel into the corners when appropriate – it isn’t a rare sight to see him with the puck below the goal line on the man advantage.
He also has a booming slap shot when put to use. However, like the majority of his teammates, he has seemed reluctant to let that shot go this season, often opting to send the puck down low to an idle forward instead.
The captain also sees time on the penalty kill, showcasing his defensive skills. In critical situations, the Terriers always seem to tap Fabbro on the shoulder. He is trusted to shut down the opposition’s top forwards and log hefty minutes on the power play. He is the definition of a two-way defenseman and could prove to be a valuable asset at the NHL level if he continues to come up big for the Terriers.
Given Nashville’s eagerness to sign Fabbro as well as the defenseman’s excitement to play for the organization, the junior may very well forgo his senior year and move on to the NHL. Taking his play during his junior season into account, it seems Fabbro is nearly ready for such a challenge.
Farrance played two seasons with the United States National Development Program before moving onto the NCAA. The New York native appeared in 31 games with the U-17 team while tallying four goals and nine assists. The following season, he produced one goal and 16 helpers in just 25 games with the U-18 squad.
In his freshman season with the Terriers, Farrance notched three goals and six assists in 31 games. In the first semester of his sophomore season, the blueliner came up with a goal and eight helpers in 16 appearances. As a freshman, he averaged under 30 seconds in the penalty box per game. So far this season, he has averaged over a minute in the box per contest.
This is a hazard of playing with a boatload of passion – something that has both helped and hurt Farrance. The 6-foot, 190-pound defenseman is always willing to stick up for his teammates. Though there is no fighting at the college level, that hasn’t stopped him from jumping into scrums and throwing heavy hits.
In the first period of a game against the University of Maine Black Bears, Farrance jostled with an opponent in the corner. Both were called for face-masking majors which resulted in game misconducts. Though he took an opponent down with him, his absence certainly affected his team as UMaine had dressed seven defensemen that night, meaning they were down to the standard six blueliners.
Meanwhile, the Terriers were down to just five and went on to lose the game 3-1. There were many other factors in BU’s loss that evening, but losing one of their best defensemen certainly didn’t help matters. However, the sophomore is often able to put this internal fire to good use. Farrance, much like his partner, is also often called upon during crunch time. The 92nd overall pick of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft appears on both the penalty kill and the power play.
With four forwards and Fabbro on the first unit, Farrance patrols the blue line on the second unit, which gives him the opportunity to unleash his very accurate slap shot. In the game prior to his face-masking mishap, Farrance tallied the game-winning goal to defeat the Black Bears. It occurred during a man advantage with just 1:11 to go in the game.
Given his age and skill, Fabbro is likely to move on to the NHL more quickly than Farrance. However, Farrance isn’t too far behind him. Though they are different players, both two-way defensemen have developed a lot of chemistry throughout their time at BU. It’s rare to see two of an NHL team’s prospects playing on the same defense pair – this could be very valuable for the Predators and something they can look forward to capitalizing on in the near future.
I cover the Boston Bruins and NCAA Hockey here at The Hockey Writers. Born and raised 10 miles north of Boston, I developed a love for the game of ice hockey at a very young age. There’s really nothing better than this sport, though steak is a close second.