Robby Fabbri Extension: Red Wings Rebuild Coming to an End?

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The Detroit Red Wings have signed Robby Fabbri to a three-year contract extension. The average annual value of the contract is $4 million. What does this contract extension mean for the franchise as the team continues to punch above its weight during the 2021-22 NHL season?

This is the second contract that Fabbri has signed with the Red Wings. After being traded from the St. Louis Blues due to knee injuries and an inability to get playing time with the Blues Fabbri needed a change of scenery. This was a low-risk move for the Red Wings as Jacob de La Rose was selected off of waivers by former general manager Ken Holland in October of 2018 after being drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2013 NHL entry draft. de La Rose is now playing hockey in Russia. Fabbri went from winning a Stanley Cup with the Blues to being on one of the worst teams in the NHL in Detroit.

Fabbri has scored 33 goals for the Red Wings since he was acquired from the Blues in exchange for de La Rose in 2019 including two in his first game with the Red Wings. Overtime Heroics’ Riley McPherson previously wrote that the trade continued to make general manager Steve Yzerman look like a genius. Beyond drafting players such as Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond, Yzerman has been able to use Detroit’s abundance of salary-cap space to be a conduit for other teams looking to make trades. This is not something that Red Wings fans are used to.

During his time as general manager of the Red Wings, Holland had a habit of giving veteran players too much term on their contract to extend the franchise’s 25-year playoff streak. This led to Yzerman having to rebuild the team’s roster. The emergence of both Seider and Raymond has certainly helped with the performance of the team so far. I previously wrote that Raymond was one of the candidates on the team for the Calder Trophy which is given to the rookie of the year in the NHL. The last Red Wings player to win the Calder was Roger Crozier in 1964-65. The Fabbri re-signing certainly indicates that Yzerman sees the 25-year-old as a piece that could help the team win its 12th Stanley Cup.

By the time this contract expires Fabbri will be 30-years-old. The Red Wings may look to move him as this date approaches or keep him as a veteran presence. They have plenty of winger prospects in their “pipeline” but lack the same depth at the center position. While Fabbri would not net an A+ prospect in return, but any prospect can certainly help the team replenish the position group. According to Dobber Prospects, the Red Wings have the third-best prospect pool in the NHL. Again, the problem is that none of the players mentioned by the site are centermen.

The Red Wings were the talk of the NHL at the beginning of the 2021-22 season. There was evidence that the team was “playing for each other” on the opening night of their season after Dylan Larkin was hit from behind by Mathieu Joseph of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Larkin was handed a match penalty for punching Joseph while Joseph was only given a two-minute penalty for roughing. The good news was that the Red Wings had a three-goal lead twice during the game, the bad news was that they blew both of those leads. Tyler Bertuzzi scored a hat trick that would bring the team to within one goal as they would lose the game 7-6.

The Red Wings are currently rebuilding. The team is just two seasons away from having an abhorrent goal differential only bested by the expansion Washington Capitals in 1974-75 with a goal differential of -265. The 2019-20 Red Wings finished the season, albeit abbreviated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with an astonishing -123 goal differential. Fabbri said that he wants to be part of the Red Wings rebuild and Yzerman agrees. Whether or not the team wins a Stanley Cup with Fabbri on the roster remains to be seen.

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