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Fabbro chooses Penticton, for now. Why that might be ok for Seattle but not for him.

The Penticton Vees just announced that they have signed Seattle's 1st round pick Dante Fabbro for the upcoming 2014-15 season.

This, of course, is unfortunate news for Seattle fans but it isn't necessarily the end of the world. Fabbro could still wind up in Seattle in the same way that Ryan Gropp did who bailed on Penticton after one season and 10 games and came to Seattle for 59 games this year and registered a very respectable 42 points.

For Seattle, this could turn out just fine. Their defensive core will be pretty deep in the 14-15 season and even though Fabbro would have likely slotted into a top 6 role as a 16 year old, he may not have seen the kind of ice time that he may see playing for Pentiction (although that remains to be seen). If he winds up coming to Seattle for his 17 year old season, Shea Theodore will be gone and it would be uncertain whether Jarret Smith and/or Jared Hauf would still be around as 20 year olds.

However, the situation isn't exactly the same for Fabbro and I'm afraid he may have just made a costly career mistake.  I understand that there are players these days (parents in particular) that want to keep the college route open as an option but I've been pretty consistent with my opinion that it just doesn't make any sense for high draft picks. If you are a 7th round bantam choice and you have no guarantees of even making a WHL club, keep your options open and go hit Junior "A". Hit the weight room, grow another 2-6" and you can always jump to the WHL or accept a college scholarship and go that route. I have no problem with NCAA College hockey but it makes a lot more sense for late developing hockey players.

Two things make his situation very different from that of Ryan Gropp's.

In the case of Gropp, he had a late birthday and isn't eligible for the NHL draft until 2015. He played half of his 17 year old season and will play all of his 18 year old season before he will get drafted. His year in Penticton seemed to stall his growth and it took him a natural adjustment period to get acclimated to the higher quality WHL game.

Even if Fabbro comes to Seattle next season he will likely have to endure the same adjustment period that a player like Gropp went through (and most players). Fabbro will have to make the league adjustment very quickly and thrive in only one year before becoming draft eligible. Impossible? No. Difficult? Yes.

Yes, I realize players can go to Junior "A" and still wind up being high draft picks. In the 2013 draft, 22 of the 30 1st round picks were from the CHL. In the 2nd round, 19 of 31 (and in full disclosure, more NCAA and lower level league picks). 7 players were drafted out of the BCHL with the highest being Adam Tambellini towards the front of the 3rd round. Tambellini, of course, wound up in the WHL this year after leaving the University of North Dakota after playing in 16 games.

Again, if I was an undersized and a lower drafted player out of Bantam's I would absolutely consider the Junior "A" and NCAA route but if I'm a high pick who has the potential to be one of the top picks in the 2016 NHL Draft, I'm going to the WHL as soon as I possibly can and I wouldn't even consider any other route.

I hope it works out for him and I hope he winds up in Seattle. Who knows... perhaps he dominates in Penticton, raises his draft stock and keeps it there either in Seattle or Penticton. I just think the risk is massive.


Anonymous said...

Tyler, are you discounting the possibility that Fabbro ends up in the NCAA in 2 years? Or is this just one scenario that you see playing out? Seems the whole point of signing with Penticton is to keep his college eligibility. I'm not convinced he's going to follow the Gropp blue print. I think his parents want him to go to college. I agree he's on pace to be a high NHL pick, but it is no guarantee. On another note, any idea why it has become so difficult for Seattle to sign its 1st round picks?

Thunnex said...

Oh no not at all. Yes, he very well could go the NCAA route in 2 years.

My gut just tells me that he waits a year and comes here next year but you could be right.

I've been critical of the front office for various things so I don't think I'm wearing rose glasses when I say that I think it it just an unfortunate coincidence that this has happened more lately.

If something is going on that is keeping 1st round picks from signing (or signing late like Barzal) I'm not acutely aware of it.

Kodi said...

I'm really getting frustrated with players not committing to the WHL after giving all indications that they plan to go that route. It's not fair to the drafting team.

I almost wish that players would have to declare for the Bantam draft and if they fail to do so become ineligible to play in the league. The risk though is you may scare some of those players to the other leagues and get a lesser product so it's really a catch 22.

At least in the QMJHL the have a compensatory pick process to help lessen the impact some of this can cause.

Anonymous said...

Kodi, I don't remember seeing anything about these players giving "all indications" they were planning the WHL route. Are you hearing that from the players or from the teams that draft them? Every draft pick is a gamble because they have options and no way you can blame them for exploring all those options. If I had a kid in the same situation, I'd do the same thing. 4 years of college isn't cheap and full ride scholarship offers are rare. These are important life altering decisions. The T-birds were patient with Gropp and let him decide and it worked out well. I'm sure they are keeping the door open for Fabbro as well.

Kodi said...

Every year you hear players lean a certain direction. At the time Gropp was leaning college which was no surprise he started in the BCHL and that people were concerned that the front office was wasting such a high pick on someone who wasn't committed. On the other hand from what I heard Fabbro was leaning the WHL route.

A player giving the wrong indication to teams who are drafting is the difference of someone like Collin Jacobs or Brian Williams being drafted in the 1st round or the 4th/7th round respectively.

I do understand that it's a very important decision and that's why I mention that maybe kids should have to commit to the league before being draft eligible. It will also put teams in the position to draft the best player available and not someone who may not be as good but is a guarantee.

Jon said...

A few random thoughts on this

1) The problem that teams and the league are getting into is when players will say "I am leaning toward NCAA", but telling some teams "I will come play for you if you draft me". Basically manipulating the draft. This is common in all 3 big leagues. I am not way saying that is going on with any particular player.

2) Fabbro from day one was a risk, and he said he was considering NCAA. This is part of why he fell to the 8th pick overall.

3) On Gropp, see #2

4) If top players are not going to sign at 15, why not move the draft to be a 16 year old draft like the QMJHL does.

5) Just like the NCAA is at a disadvantage to the WHL in their rules on player eligibility, the WHL is at a disadvantage to the BCHL (and other junior a leagues). The BCHL has no list or draft. So, basically, players are free agents. So Junior A teams can put together the best team possible. Of course, they all try this, but some are more successful.

6) Just to put it out, I agree with what Tyler said. If you are good enough to be a high NHL draft pick, then the CHL is the best location for you.

Lets say you go the NCAA route. You are most likely playing your 16 and 17 year old season in Junior A. Then your 18, 19, 20, and most times 21 year old seasons in College. You can now enter the professional ranks until most likely your 22 (and cant sign a pro contract until you are 22).

With the CHL, you would play your 16, 17, 18, and 19 year old season in the WHL. You then can be entering the professional ranks at the age of 20 (and signed making some money at 18).

So you are putting off a professional career 2 years (and making money).

Also take into consideration the college schedule vs the CHL / AHL / ECHL schedule, and the level of competition. Some would argue that by playing a season of professional ranks is worth two years of NCAA, so those people could argue that you are more then two years behind the CHL route.

Kodi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kodi said...

1) I will have to agree with you on this one and I think it's happening very often in our division. You see it more with US players saying they are going the college route so it's easier to list them lower in the draft or as non drafted players. Lets say you hypothetically have your first round pick yanked for multiple years in a row you don't really lose anything.

2) I'll take your word on that as you are more in the know then I am

Anonymous said...

Looks like Penticton also poached Tyson Jost away from Everett. I can understand wanting to leave the NCAA on the table if your a marginal player but this doesn't make much sense to me. Jost and Fabbro could start their training at the highest level possible as 16 year olds and they are choosing not to do it. It makes me wonder if there are issues with parents not wanting their Canadian kids going to US schools or something. Maybe staying home in Penticton is just more attractive. Personally I would want to play and train with the best competition I could get and that's the WHL.

Anonymous said...

Just a note on kids who go NCAA route often schools will ask players to play a year or two of Junior A post grad. Or maybe do a year of post grad at a high level private school (read big $$) before coming to school. This costs a lot of money and can often negate the benefit of a "full ride". Tyler I agree with you on the size/age/development piece. If you are younger and/or smaller NCAA (Junior A) can be excellent. If you are a top pick and your #1 goal is high draft CHL is the best route. The problem is kids (yes, I called them kids) and parents are forced to make this decision when they are 15/16. Sometimes buying a year - or at least a few months; makes a lot of sense.

Anonymous said...

I can't even imagine having to make such serious life choices at 15/16.

Unknown said...

I wonder if this is a decision for perceived playing time. Seattle will return at least 4 of their top 6 defensemen and could return all 6 (about a snowballs chance in hell . . . I think they keep one 20 yr Dman). Maybe he just didn't think he would get a lot of minutes.

I agree that if you are a top end talent it is probably better for your development to play a CHL league than a lower league. I think athletes develop the most from competition. If he is drafted at 18 aren't the chances that his NHL team will want him playing in the NHL so he would play more games and they would have more file to evaluate on him?

Tyler or Jon, can you maybe do a writeup on the defensemen who are in the mix for next year. Personally I think they keep Henry as a 20 and trade Wardley. If the price is right can they afford to trade both? I would think the T-birds would want to pick up a couple of 19 yr forwards for the upcoming season since they have none right now and are going to lose a lot of forwards who are going to be 20 this year

Anonymous? said...

I think that keeping henry is smart if we can get two decent forwards in the import draft. If we can't do that then maybe we keep three 20's at forward and trade henry for a good role playing 18 or 19 yr old forward. Personally I'd like to see us keep Hickman, yak and Mac. Having said that our defense was not great last year and maybe drafting a euro d man would be good

Anonymous said...

I realize that what I am about to suggest is something that almost everyone will hate, but I am going to bring it up anyway. And what the heck probably no one will read this anyway since I am off topic on a post that is two weeks old.

What do we think would be the trade value of Shea Theodore? Heading into next season I think we could cash in on a lot if we dealt him to a team willing to pay the right price. I say this because while I am excited about the coming season, what I am really excited about is 2015-16 when Barzal and Bear are 18's Gropp and Eansor are 19 and guys like Kolesar, Mumaugh and Spencer are able to play as well seasoned and tenacious veterans. Who will our 20's be? Not Shea most likely unless he has a horrible year next year. We could still have Smith certainly, or Hauf if he manages to make it worth our while. Perhaps at that point we also have Fabbro and a rookie Tyzska on the back end. Maybe Elder and Pederson and Volcano all are playing by then as well. The possibilities are immense, but the team I just described would not by itself be championship material.

Could we get an offensive or defensive difference maker like Virtanen or Bittner or maybe Pilon that would give the team a chance to compete for a championship? Obviously we would have to find the right buyer, probably portland (and believe me I hate the thought of Shea in a hawk uniform) but depending on the deal I think it might be worth it.

So hate away or don't I'm just putting it out there.

Anonymous said...

That isn't the worst idea I ever heard. Sometimes you have to make a bold move to set yourself up for better success. At most we have one year left of Theodore. If we can get some younger high end assets for him that can grow together with what we already have I wouldn't be opposed. It would be a tough sell from a marketing standpoint but the T-birds are not going to win the WHL next season anyway so why not try to start loading up for the two seasons after this one? It has to be the right deal though otherwise it's just wasting him.

mjs1980 said...

Obviously we don't know what was offered back then, but if the team didn't trade Hickey and Pickard when they had nothing to play for, I don't think they are going to trade Theodore after making the playoffs two years in a row.

It would have to be a massive overpayment along the lines of the Noebels deal where Farwell has absolutely no choice but to say yes.

Kodi said...

Usually when you see those types of trade it's not during the off season but at the trade deadline. The problem is the teams that are going to want him aren't going to want to give up quality 17/18 year olds because they are trying to make a run.

Anonymous said...

While they may not be favorites next year I don't see it being as far fetched as the author of the "trade Theodore" post sees it in regards to Seattle's chances of winning it all next season. If Farwell can get two 20+ goal scorers in the import draft and essentially replace Lipsbergs and Delnov with similar offensive numbers, the T-birds should be a top 3 or 4 team in the West and the gap between one and two (right now I'd say Kelowna and Portland) is not as wide as it was a year ago. Theo should be a 30 goal scorer next season. No way I trade that much offense from my back end. You'd be starting the season with 4 of your top 5 scorers from the previous season gone. Let's see what they can get by trading their extra 20s, see what listed player might show up at camp, ala Eansor, before we start contemplating trading a player like Theodore. Remember, they need to build a culture of winning and trading your best player, after just two winning seasons, sends the wrong message to recruits. A losing team makes that kind of trade. Have you seen teams like Portland, Edmonton, Kelowna, or even Tri do that when they are winning?

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