Despite that the Nashville Predators look better defensively on paper this season, they haven’t had the start they wanted from their group. They added Ryan McDonagh and have Jeremy Lauzon on their roster from the start of the season. The team also expected Dante Fabbro and Alexandre Carrier to be better than last season while hoping Roman Josi maintains his dominant play that led the team to the playoff last season.
Not only has the team failed to get the production they need from their defence, but half of their forwards have also failed to make any significant contributions offensively. It is crowded on the backend and the Predators could use a bit of help upfront either this season or in the future. This is why Fabbro’s name has come up. In a recent op-ed for the Toronto Star, Nick Kypreos wrote that general manager David Poile wants to move a defenceman and is willing to part with Fabbro for the right price (from “With Rielly out, Maple Leafs would be wise to do some early Christmas window shopping. Who’s worth a trade call?”, Toronto Star, Nov. 24, 2022).
Fabbro started the season on the top pairing with Josi but hasn’t stepped up enough. He is now on the third pairing, averaging three fewer minutes per game than in each of his first three NHL seasons. It might be time for a change, and the Predators could get a nice return for him. Now, here’s a closer look at a few teams that might be interested in becoming trade partners with Nashville.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Most defencemen rumoured to be on the move have been linked to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and for good reason. The team is missing four key d-men, and not for a short time. Morgan Rielly will be out for six weeks with a knee injury, T.J. Brodie is out with an oblique injury, Jake Muzzin might be out for the season with a back injury, and Jordie Benn has recently hit the injured reserve with an upper-body injury.
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The Maple Leafs made a small trade, acquiring Conor Timmins for one of their minor-league players, but that won’t change much. Timmins was playing in the American Hockey League this season after averaging 8:34 in two games for the Arizona Coyotes. The Maple Leafs need someone who can make more of an impact, and Fabbro is the perfect target. He’s only 24 years old, with more offensive and defensive upside than he’s shown thus far, and he’s a defensively-minded right-shot blueliner. He is a major upgrade over Timmins and Mac Hollowell and may be a better option than Timothy Liljegren and Justin Holl. Plus, Fabbro, who hasn’t entered his prime yet, will be a restricted free agent after the season. Kypreos said it would likely cost the Maple Leafs prospect Matthew Knies to acquire Fabbro, and it would be worth it.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Like the Maple Leafs, the Columbus Blue Jackets are dealing with a ton of injury problems on their backend. The difference is Toronto is in the hunt for a playoff spot, while the Blue Jackets are likely to get a high draft pick at this point already. Among the injuries to Columbus’ blue line are Zach Werenski, Jake Bean, Adam Boqvist, and Nick Blankenburg. All these injuries will keep the Blue Jackets players out longer than those on the Maple Leafs, including Werenski’s season-ending injury.
The Blue Jackets will miss a big opportunity if they don’t trade Vladislav Gavrikov by the trade deadline because they can get a first-round pick, at least, for him. The team is going to be shorthanded and would wisely look for a shutdown defenceman who is strong defensively to help out the team. Columbus allows too many goals, and they aren’t good enough defensively as is.
Fabbro is a defence-first player who doesn’t excel offensively but is a consistent passer. The Blue Jackets don’t necessarily need more offence from their backend, but they need help for Elvis Merzlikins and co. Fabbro is a penalty killer but isn’t the most effective on his team. As a former first-round pick, the Predators hoped he would be the next franchise defender, but it hasn’t worked out that way. However, he is still a competent top-four NHL defenceman. Columbus has more than enough young forwards to send back in a deal to help both teams.
The Ottawa Senators have had a bit of injury trouble this season, but that isn’t their only problem on the backend. Defence is their weakness, and they have players like Travis Hamonic and Nick Holden lining up on their right side. Fabbro can play top-four minutes for the Senators on that right side while providing the defensive ability the team is lacking.
The Senators have several assets to send back in a trade, and Alex Formenton, who is an unsigned RFA, stands out. There’s a much higher chance Formenton is traded before playing another game for Ottawa, and he’s the perfect trade piece. Acquiring a player with his speed and offensive ability would have an immediate positive impact on the Predators, allowing him to slide into the top-nine and add scoring. Ottawa really doesn’t have much in the way of strong defensive prospects after Jacob Bernard-Docker, so acquiring a 24-year-old with three full NHL seasons under his belt already would go a long way.
Fabbro will likely be traded this season, given his role on the team this season. The Predators have always been at drafting, developing, and acquiring high-level defencemen. They’ve had a good look at Fabbro already and could use him to get better up front, where they are equipped to win a Stanley Cup.
Rob Couch is a THW freelance writer covering mainly the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. He covers everything you need to know about fantasy hockey. He will also keep you up to date with NHL Stats News and trade talks.
You can find more of his work here.