First Take: Evaluating the Fabbri Trade for De la Rose

Robby Fabbri (15) celebrates his goal against the Chicago Blackhawks. Fabbri, 23, was traded to the Detroit Red Wings last night for forward Jacob de la Rose. (Photo courtesy: Canadian Press)

St. Louis, MO – Immediately after a solid win against the Pacific Division-leading Edmonton Oilers, the Blues announced through their socials that Robby Fabbri has been traded from St. Louis for Detroit Red Wings forward Jacob de la Rose. De la Rose, 24, scored 12 goals and 20 assists through 195 NHL games, split between Montral and Detroit.

Originally drafted by Montreal 24th overall in the 2013 draft, the Swedish native won a gold medal with team Sweden back in the 2018 IIHF World Championships. A two-way forward, De la Rose struggled to find minutes between the rebuilding squads of Montreal and Detroit. He had a career-high 4 goals and 8 assists with Montreal before he was put on waivers.

Fabbri, 23, broke out with the St. Louis Blues in his first couple seasons, scoring 18 goals and 37 points in his freshman season. He was drafted 21st overall by the Blues back in 2014 and immediately rose to local fame with the fanbase. However, midway through the 2016-17 season, Fabbri suffered a season-ending ACL injury that took him all summer to recover from.

In a preseason contest, Fabbri reinjured the same ACL, sidelining him for another full season from ’17-18. After his second surgery, Fabbri never quite returned to form, scoring just 2 goals and six points with St. Louis in 23 games in the 2018-19 season. He scored the opening goal in the Dallas-St. Louis series during the 2019 playoffs and won the Cup with the Blues.

Breaking Down the Trade

As much as some of us may love Robby Fabbri, this trade was inevitable for him. He and de la Rose share some similar stats through their short careers, from slightly sub-par Corsi numbers and point shares totaling around .10. The trade is one-for-one, no draft picks or salary included, with both of their cap hits at $900,000 and both becoming RFAs in 2020.

In my mind, this trade works well for both teams. Detroit is in the thick of their rebuild, with new GM Yzerman giving the franchise a new direction. The Red Wings have some promising young skaters that can finesse the puck, like Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha and Dylan Larkin. Jacob de la Rose is not a natural scorer, but a great two-way player and a smart forechecker. He’s not one to shy away from a hit and contribute to the defensive side of the game. This style of play, however, doesn’t quite gel with Detroit’s new identity of high-scoring players.

That’s where Robby Fabbri comes in. Fabbri became known at the beginning of his NHL career for the finesse plays and a master of the breakout play. Standing at only 5’-10”, Fabbri quickly became one of the fastest skaters in his early years with St. Louis, but the ACL injuries set him back. Even worse, the finesse-type of play wasn’t what St. Louis was looking for anymore.

Under Craig Berube, the Blues bought all-in to the heavy defensive play and the grinding forecheck in their own zone to generate scoring. St. Louis used this mentality to win their first Stanley Cup, and all signs point to them doing it again this season. For a player like Fabbri, it’s just not the right fit for him.

Final Sendoff

I’m saddened, like a lot of Blues fans probably are, to see a kid with so much potential let go. However, the Blues organization clearly did not like what they were seeing out of Fabbri’s game (as The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford confirmed) and needed a change. The Blues injury train is rolling along, with Tarasenko out until postseason at the earliest and Steen likely out long-term after his collision last night against Edmonton.

For both players, I hope this will be a new change of scenery that helps them return to form. Fabbri, if he remains healthy and can skate fast again, should start finding minutes on a Red Wings’ team trying to turn the page, while de la Rose’s style of play should fit right in with St. Louis’ bottom 6. It’s a safe, one-for-one trade that I expect could work out for both teams in the end, with low risk for the franchises if they don’t pan out.

I wish the best of luck to Robby Fabbri in Detroit. Regardless of where he plays, no one can take his name from that Stanley Cup and the unimaginable run that he was a part of.

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