Fabbri impressing in Blues' camp

ST. LOUIS — Robby Fabbri said his eyes lit up when he arrived at Blues training camp and saw that he’d be playing on a line with veterans Patrik Berglund and Steve Ott.

That was quite the eye-opener for the Blues’ first-round pick (No. 21 overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft, but the talented forward has opened up some eyes with his play during his first training camp in St. Louis.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said that Fabbri and Ivan Barbashev, the team’s second round pick in this past draft, both have looked much better during training camp than they did at the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Michigan earlier this month.

“These guys have looked much better playing with NHL players and that’s really encouraging,” Hitchcock said. “So their thinking is up to speed. Their skill level is there. I think when they play with composed NHL players, their level went up, not down — which is a thing that’s made us happy. You always worry when you’ve got younger guys out there. Are they going to be overwhelmed? Are they going to be able to keep up? But both those guys have really shown real upside by being able to play with good players.”

Fabbri got his first preseason action on Monday night during the Blues’ exhibition game in Dallas and Hitchcock had more praise for the undersized 18-year-old forward following his team’s 4-3 loss.

"I thought Robby was really an effective player,” Hitchcock told Lou Korac of NHL.com. “Based on tonight's performance, he probably deserves a little bit longer stay. He's got speed, he's got hockey sense, he's got strength on the puck. For a small guy, he's really strong on the puck."

The 5-foot-10, 170-pounder will likely be among the first roster cuts of training camp but it is obvious that he will leave St. Louis having made a positive impression with the Blues.

That’s about as much as you could ask for from a teenager drafted in the bottom-third of the first round just a couple months ago.

Fabbri feels like he’s done well while working with his veteran linemates, who have more than 1,100 regular season games’ worth of experience in the NHL between them.

“I felt like I’ve been keeping up with Bergie and Otter on the ice,” he said. “Practices are high tempo and that’s the way I like to play. I think I’ve been practicing hard and, like I said, keeping up with them.”

Fabbri’s impressive training camp comes after a good run at the Prospects Tournament in Traverse City.

He scored four goals, including three power-play tallies, and added one assist in the Blues’ four games at the tournament. He scored two goals in the team’s 4-3 loss to the Wild in the Blues’ second game and then scored twice in the Blues’ 2-1 win over the Sabres in their fourth and final game there.

“I thought I did pretty well,” Fabbri said. “First game working my way into things, you know, getting the jitters out and adjusting. But having Rats (Ty Rattie) and Viddy (Yannick Veilleux) on my line helping me out made me feel comfortable and since that first game I felt like I played pretty well and held my own.”

The Blues’ 2014 first-round pick has definitely held his own over the past few weeks, both in Traverse City and in St. Louis. Fabbri has plenty of development ahead of him, including getting bigger and stronger, but he looks like that he has a bright future with the Blues.

You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter at @NateLatsch or email him at natelatsch@gmail.com

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