It has been two years since the 25-year-old forward spurned the Predators in favor of becoming an unrestricted free agent and having the freedom to sign with whichever team he desired. That team turned out to not be the Predators.
Vesey was originally a third-round pick of the Preds in 2012. He attended several development camps in Nashville, keeping in touch with the Predators front office throughout his time at Harvard.
Vesey even convinced Predators’ general manager David Poile that he would sign with the team after his senior season ended. In fact, he was so convincing that Poile did not make any acquisitions at the 2016 trade deadline to save a roster spot for Vesey. Since then, Preds fans have been hesitant about investing emotionally in high, college draft picks because of the “Vesey factor.”
Enter Dante Fabbro. The 6-foot-1 defenseman was drafted 17thoverall in 2016 and has played two full seasons at Boston University. He is coming into his own as a top-flight defenseman and was recently named co-captain at BU where is about to enter his junior year.
Fabbro is coming off a successful 2017 season with the Terriers and an NCAA tournament appearance. He is also currently attending his second development camp with the Predators and questions of if and when he will sign with Nashville are beginning to surface.
“I think it’s just talking to family, and obviously talking with Nashville,” Fabbro said. “I think it’s just getting everyone on the same page and making sure I’m 100 percent ready in my mind. I think those are definitely conversations that will happen down the road, for sure.
“I have no reason to want to go somewhere else. With their record of developing defensemen in the league, I think it would definitely be a perfect fit for me. I’m excited to play here, I want to play here and its definitely going to be a dream come true if I can.”
Fabbro certainly is saying all the right things. He insists that Nashville is where he wants to be, stating he would be a perfect fit on the Nashville blue line. If there is one uncertainty on Fabbro’s end, it would appear to be timing.
“I’ve always said that I want to play in Nashville; I want to be a Predator,” Fabbro said. “I honestly don’t think it will come to that (unrestricted free agency), but a lot of things can happen. My sister went to school here, I have some roots here, my favorite player growing up was Shea Weber, and obviously Nashville is my favorite team.”
If Fabbro did leave BU early, his place in Nashville is all but uncertain. Currently, the Preds boast what some describe as the best top four in the league with Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm and P.K. Subban.
Ellis and Tony Bitetto will be unrestricted free agents next year, if Ellis is not re-signed this offseason. The following year, Josi, Matt Irwin and Yannick Weber will be UFAs as well. So, if Fabbro were to join the Predators, it would seem that one of the “big four” would need to be gone to make that a reality.
“When you turn pro, you’re going to have to beat out somebody at some point,” he said. “They have the best D-core in the league and I’d be honored to play on that blue line with them. When the time comes, I will definitely try my best to earn a spot on the team. I need to make sure I put myself in the best situation and continue to grow as a player.”
That last statement, the one about putting himself in the best situation, that caught my attention. Surely it weighs on the mind of a first-round pick about to sign his first professional contract that his team could have its top four spots on defense locked up long-term.
Yes, Fabbro has said the Preds are his favorite team. Yes, he has said he wants to be a Predator. And yes, he is saying all the right things. But do we really expect him to say anything different?
“Like I said, everyone has got to be on the same page,” Fabbro added. “If there’s doubts with my family or myself, I think another year won’t hurt. If everyone is on the same page, it’s time to come out. I think those are just the talks I’ve got to have with my dad and my advisor and Nashville as well.
Given the Jimmy Vesey saga, surely Poile and the rest of the Preds’ front office would like to keep history from repeating itself. Nashville has Fabbro’s rights for at least two more years; however, if he is still unsigned at this time next year, the Preds might need to start worrying.