Robby Fabbri was a highly touted prospect when the St. Louis Blues drafted him last summer in Philadelphia (2014, 21st overall), and hasn’t disappointed anyone since making the squad this season. His high hockey IQ and impressive knack for finding scoring areas and finishing chances has helped his line mates, and the Blues, continue to win in lieu of other inconsistencies.
What Makes Him Fabbri-lous
Despite his small stature and rocky start, which was caused by a couple of injuries including a concussion that saw him miss 12 games, Robby Fabbri has been a great addition to the Blues this season. He has been able to pump some life into Dmitrij Jaskin, who until finding his current line mates (Fabbri & Lehtera) had previously only found chemistry with Paul Stastny. This has helped turn Jaskin’s season around, especially over the last 5 games where he’s registered 3 points (1G, 2A) and has been impressive to watch with the puck.
Fabbri isn’t just a great teammate though, he’s a true play-maker. With his shifty nature and high hockey IQ he’s able to find gaps in offensive coverage to accept passes and get quick shots off and on net. His quick release fools a lot of goalies, so even if he misses his mark (where he’s truly aiming his shot) there’s a good chance the puck will still go in (as was the case in his last game against Nashville; see the video above).
Breaking Down His Play Thus Far
Another dimension to Fabbri’s game lately has been better overall defensive play and awareness. He’s been able to figure out coach Ken Hitchcock’s systems well (thanks again to his high hockey IQ) and is beginning to be a threat in each and every zone. Because of this he’s seeing an increase in ice-time, and is generating more offense as well. He currently sits in a tie for 11th among rookies in terms of plus-minus (plus-3) and in overall points (13), which is incredibly impressive given the time he’s missed due to injury.
Fabbri has also been able to maintain one of the highest shooting percentages in the NHL this season (17%) which is well above the league average (8.9%), and is 2nd best among all rookies who have played at least 25 games this year. On top of that Fabbri is also tied for 5th in game-winning-goals among NHL rooks (2), which illustrates his focus during big moments. This shows a side of him that’s very similar to Vladimir Tarasenko in terms of clutch performances. Being able to learn from such a dynamic player like Tarasenko has allowed Fabbri to elevate his game to not only keep up with, but dictate the pace of play around him at the NHL level. This is why he’s such a budding star in the area, and why his stats reflect his stellar offensive play (4G, 1A in his last 5GP).
“A lot of (guys) did a lot of great things. That’s what it takes to win – when you’ve got everyone going.”- Robby Fabbri
Why Fabbri’s Line Needs to Stay in Tact
Though Fabbri has shown he’s capable of brilliant plays with a multitude of teammates surrounding him, his current line with Jaskin and Jori Lehtera has been the Blues most consistent as of late. That’s because they have the exact dynamic a coach looks for in a line. Fabbri is great at finding those gaps in coverage, and creating time and space in high scoring areas. Jaskin is excellent at strong-manning the puck and digging it out of the ‘dirty’ areas, such as the corners. Lastly, Lehtera is superb at making plays, causing turnovers, and creating puck possession which is the final piece of this lethal puzzle.
This deadly combination allows the players without the puck to have more time and space away from the opposing defense, which increases the likelihood of a goal for and is just another reason this line is creating so much offense as of late. With more limited minutes (for Lehtera specifically) and more favorable match-ups the Lehtera, Jaskin, Fabbri line has shown that they can be true difference makers on the ice. Knowing Hitchcock, the lines will inevitably change, and probably sooner rather than later, but if Lehtera, Jaskin, and Fabbri can keep their pace up, they will make it hard for Hitch to move things around.
They will also provide the secondary scoring depth the Blues have yearned for this season, which should also give the top lines more chances at the net. This could very well give the team the consistency it’s been searching for this season, and just in time for the second half to begin.
Like what you’ve just read? Follow me on Twitter: @pep30
Mike has covered the St. Louis Blues and Tampa Bay Lightning in depth for The Hockey Writers since 2013. He is also a contributing writer for KSDK News Channel 5, the St. Louis area NBC affiliate, and has been a credentialed media member of the Blues since 2014. Follow him on Twitter @pep30.