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Friday, June 27, 2014

Blues use 21st pick to draft Fabbri


 By Andrew Allsman| Posted: June 27, 2014| Contact  |








Heading into the first round of the draft, there was a high level of uncertainty surrounding the Blues’ first round selection. St. Louis, who had been in talks with the Ottawa Senators for the past few weeks, was rumored to be the favorite landing spot of Senator center Jason Spezza. Had a deal happened, it is likely that it would have involved the Blues’ first-round draft pick going Ottawa’s way. However, no such deal occurred and the Blues used the 21st pick to select center Robby Fabbri.

“It feels great sitting there and then finally being called by the Blues," Fabbri told reporters in Philadelphia. "It’s a great honor; such a great team to go to.”

Fabbri, 18, tallied 45 goals, 87 points in 58 games with the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League last season. He also had 28 points in 16 playoff games en route to the Guelph Storm’s OHL championship. As a result of his stellar playoff performance, Fabbri was named the MVP of the 2014 playoffs.

“I enjoy winning; I hate losing," Fabbri said. "Winning that title is hard. You are not going to get too many opportunities and with the chance I had this year, I wanted to make the most of it.”

Fabbri is not currently NHL-ready, but one scout thinks that the young center could become an impressive NHL player down the road.

“He’s got star written all over him,” Mark Seidel, chief scout with North American Central Scouting told thestar.com.

Seidel says that Fabbri reminds him a lot of Carolina forward Jeff Skinner. Skinner came into the NHL during the 2010-11 season and won the League’s Calder Trophy for rookie of the year, amassing 63 points in his first season with the Hurricanes.

“The way his season has come on, the kind of playoffs he’s had, he reminds me of Jeff Skinner,” Seidel said. “Skinner had a great year (in his draft year) in Kitchener, but it was in the playoffs where he really came on.

“In the scouting business, you’re always looking at guys who are still getting better, who are continually swinging upwards. “Well, this Fabbri kid is continuing to rise.”

Fabbri’s OHL coach, Scott Walker, who had a 15-year NHL career, feels that Fabbri could have as big of an impact long-term as any player taken in the 2014 draft.

“He wants to be a winner, pressure doesn’t seem to bother him,” Walker told thestar.com. “He’s on a great team but he’s one of the reasons we were a great team.”

While Fabbri went 21st overall, many, including TSN’s Bob McKenzie, feel he could have gone much earlier in the draft. However, the 5’10” forward’s small stature perhaps scared teams away. But not the Blues, who have drafted the likes of Jaden Schwartz and Jordan Schmaltz; both are players who, like Fabbri, have a high upside.

“You can’t do anything about size,” Walker said. “But 15 years from now, I don’t know if there’s another player in this draft that sells more jerseys or more tickets than Robby Fabbri.”

Prior to the draft, Fabbri was ranked 21st among North American skaters in Central Scouting’s final rankings. The center’s overall performance on the season helped him climb four spots from the midseason rankings.

“Fabbri is a below average sized buzz saw who works hard and has some of the best feet in the entire draft,” Fabbri’s profile read on Elite Prospects’ website. “He uses his speed and mobility to be shifty and elusive but is also willing to play physical. His hands are skilled, he shows some creativity on the ice, and has a quick shot release.”

Blues Director of Amateur Scouting, Bill Armstrong, said in the days leading up to the draft that he would use the 21st pick on the best player available rather than drafting based organizational needs. The Blues, who could be called barren when it comes to depth at center, could not pass up the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.

"Fabbri is the young, talented center Blues fans have been (literally) yelling for to get in their system, Corey Pronman, an NHL prospect writer for ESPN tweeted on Friday after the Blues’ selection.

The Blues will have eight more picks to use in rounds 2-7 on Saturday.