For the first time in what seems like a decade, it has appeared Detroit Red Wings Its depth of menu.
There is a lot to love about the team’s strikers. New coach Derek Lalonde will have plenty of opportunities to mix players like Dylan Larkin, Lucas Raymond, Tyler Bertozzi, Jacob Frana, Andrew Cobb and David Peron. Analyzing names like Michael Rasmussen, Philip Zadina, Joe Felino and Dominic Kopalek complicates matters. In terms of issues, this is a good thing for the organization. More depth means more points, and more points means a pervasive system where any streak can make an impact.
But, in all the deep conversations, one name is constantly overlooked: Robbie Fabri.
With all this talk about the depth of the list… Where is Fabri’s place?
Does anyone push the second line down? Does he kick someone out of the third?
The depth of the situation is clear as mud
– Jake Rivard (RivardNHL) September 21 2022
The striker, acquired in a Jacob de la Rose deal, finished last season on a harsh note, tore up his AFC Champions League and sidelined him until January 2023. He finished the season with 17 goals and 30 points in 56 games, as he traveled up and down. The lineup as a kind of militiamen in the list. Fabri just signed a three-year, $4 million-a-year deal with The Wings. When he returns, he will almost certainly earn a place on the list for himself. But where will he play? Who will be forced to drop out of the squad as a result? Will Laserman have to trade a player to make room for Fabry?
Before we get too ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at the list so far:
Bertuzzi Larkin Raymond
Frana Cobb Peron
Kobalik Sutter Zadina
Eren Rasmussen Sundqvist
There’s a lot to like about this expected lineup, but the current makeup leaves a lot of unanswered questions. Michael Rasmussen played on his mind towards the end of the season. This level of play does not guarantee the time is in the fourth line – if anything, it should be in the third row. Filip Zadina, another mystery on the list, needs more time around the top six players on the team to really make a name for himself. In fact, they are both He specifically called him “On the right track” to becoming a good player. Can he do that with limited minutes for the third line?
What about Byron? Sure, he’s 34 years old, but he just finished a professional season scoring goals and points. Is relegating him to a deep role good for the roster or bad for the team? Dominic Kopalek, another free proxy site,
To say there are more questions than answers is an understatement. As the season kicks off, the picture will become a little clearer, but for now, it’s fun to speculate on how the slate will shake up. If the team qualifies well by January, Fabri will be the key to throwing everything out of balance. If the chaos is total, he may be the piece needed to answer a topical need.
While NHL.com Fabri played as a center, he played most of his time in Detroit in the left wing position. Where he plays when he returns depends on two factors: performance and injury. The latter is simpler, as Fabbri can easily enter if Vrana, Kubalik or Rasmussen are injured. The first is where things get complicated. Would Vrana be demoted if he couldn’t keep up with last year’s numbers? Would Kopalek relegated to the fourth line if he couldn’t move forward in time?
The puzzle gets even more complicated when you consider potential rookie player Jonathan Berggren. The 22-year-old had an impressive season with Grand Rapids Griffins, putting together 64 points in 70 AHL games. According to the Griffins roster, Berggren is LW/RW, which means he plays on both sides of the line. Before Kubalik and Perron sang, it seemed like a lock for the lineup. Now, with so much depth, it remains to be seen whether or not Bergren will carve out a full-time spot for himself this season.
Here’s the assumption: Let’s say Kubalik underperforms or gets hurt early on and Berggren called the call. In his limited time with the roster, he shines, putting in more than half a point per game in 20 games. In fact, he did so well that he took on a role in the middle of the team. What happens when Fabry returns? Was Berggren forced to return to the AHL? Will the team need to make a deal?
What’s important in hockey (and all things, really) is to keep things realistic. You might be thinking to yourself “If everything is OK, why don’t they just trade Fabbri?”. Consider the third-party approach to such a trade. Here’s a six-man center forward on a long-term deal. He might help with production, but he struggled to stay healthy. What price would the team be willing to pay for a 26-year-old with a long history of ACL injuries? Trading the Fabbri from the Red Wings is likely to require salary retention – and until then, at best, they’ll guarantee a mediocre selection in return.
As far as utility goes, it’s much better if you keep a guy like Fabry. He can contribute to crime, play a strong two-way game, and take only a small portion of the maximum salary. Fabbri is the kind of player you want to be around when you’re looking for deep points.
The Red Wings have already included the following in their list of nightly openers:
- Tyler Bertozzi
- Jacob Franna
- Michael Rasmussen
- Joe Boyson
- Dominic Cuban
- Adam Ernie
If Fabri was healthy on opening night, for example, he would comfortably beat Ernie, Rasmussen, Kobalek and Velino. This would put him in the third line winger, playing Pius Sutter and one of Philip Zadina or David Peron. But, with Fabry in place, his replacement will need to take over the fourth line. The move will likely propel Kubalik into the 4LW role, knocking Adam Erne out of the squad.
It remains to be seen if this type of movement is beneficial to the former 27-goal Kobalik, but so far, it appears to be the only path that would give Fabry a proper place to play with his strengths. There simply can’t be a $4 million fourth streak anymore. The days of mismanaging Justin Abdelkader’s contract were a thing of the past.
Conclusions, or a good problem to have:
There are not many teams at the center that the Red Wings will be coming up with in January. Fabri’s return provides an almost instant upgrade to an already exciting team depth. In addition, it opens up the possibility of trades and also creates a sense of competition within the list. It’s been years since the Red Wings fought such intense infighting for spots on the roster.
Heck, if it all worked out, Fabry might need to fight back to get his role back.