Wings’ Robby Fabbri excited about move to center, offensive potential

Detroit News

Ted Kulfan
| The Detroit News

Detroit — The Red Wings expect the line of Tyler Bertuzzi, Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha to continue scoring goals.

But beyond that, it’s a bit of question mark.

That’s why Robby Fabbri becomes so important, with Fabbri’s switch to center, between wings Filip Zadina and Bobby Ryan, establishing a second dangerous scoring line.

Fabbri was a center through his junior career, and was drafted as a center by St. Louis, and played there until two knee surgeries changed his role.

After being traded to the Red Wings early last season, Fabbri spent the majority of the season on the wing, until head coach Jeff Blashill switched Fabbri back to center the final few games before the pandemic paused the season.

Being back at center this week has excited Fabbri.

“I really enjoy it,” Fabbri said of playing center. “It was nice to get some games in last year before the pause. That’s my natural position, I’ve played it my whole life and I feel comfortable there and effective.”

More: Intrasquad scrimmage at LCA next up for Wings’ accelerated training camp

Moving Fabbri to center, said Blashill, was an organizational decision, Blashill having talked it over with general manager Steve Yzerman.

“We were going to play Robby there through the year but he only got those two or three games, but he looked good in those games,” Blashill said. “He gives a chance to have a No. 2 center, a guy who can who can play in the top-6 in that position, and he’s excited about it.”

Fabbri showed glimpses of being an offensive instigator last season, after arriving from St. Louis. Playing with Zadina and Ryan, two wingers with elite shots, gives Fabbri an opportunity to create offense, and provide the scoring the Red Wings badly need down the lineup.

“It’s tough to rely on the big three (first line) all the time,” Fabbri said. “When you’re getting production from all four lines, that’s when you get rolling from game to game.”

More: Red Wings will feature branding on helmets

Coming home

Vladislav Namestnikov’s uncle Slava Kozlov was a popular Red Wing player during the Stanley Cup-winning years.

Namestinikov is a prime seat in the Wings’ locker room, in that regard.

“I see his picture, I sit directly across from it,” Namestnikov said. “It’s exciting for me and my family that I’m playing for the Red Wings.”

Growing up in the area, Namestnikov was a regular in the Wings’ locker room.

“I grew up watching the Red Wings games,” Namestnikov said. “When I show up the rink, it’s a dream come true. I’m ready to get started and give it my all.”

Ice chips

Newcomer defenseman Troy Stetcher made the 35-hour drive from Vancouver to Detroit with his dog, a Bernese Mountain dog, Phoebe.

They stopped in Montana, Minnesota and Madison, Wisconsin, along the way.

“She was a trooper,” Stetcher said. “I couldn’t be more proud of her. I wasn’t coming without  her.”

… Mantha has been getting work on the penalty kill, something Blashill is intrigued about. “He’s a guy who has a real long stick, a long body, and he can cover so much area,” Blashill said. “He hasn’t done much of it on the pro level, but he has the instincts to do it.”

…The NHL released start times for this season’s games. The Wings’ home opener will be at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 14 against Carolina. Notable, also, is the Jan. 18 game at LCA against Columbus (noon start). There are several 3 p.m. starts late in the season.

But, again, no fans are allowed inside LCA for the time being because of the pandemic.

Twitter: @tkulfan

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