The Montreal Canadiens have taken their third defenceman of the 2019 NHL Draft in Gianni Fairbrother. Fairbrother is a smooth skating defenceman who was selected in front of his hometown faithful, as the North Vancouver native didn’t have to travel too far for the draft.
Birthplace: North Vancouver, BC, Canada
Date of birth: September 30, 2000
Weight: 194 lbs.
Team: Everett Silvertips
Fairbrother plays for the Everett Silvertips in the WHL where he finished his third full season. He played three games in 2016-17 but mostly played in the BC Midget League and he missed most of his first WHL season in 2017-18, playing only 36 games. Last season, he had 10 goals and 26 assists in 64 games which was a significant increase from the previous year. He also added four assists in 10 playoff games.
Fairbrother had an injury-riddled season in his first season in the WHL holding him to under 40 games. He was injured after suffering a separated shoulder during a fight with Reece Newkirk. The injury sidelined him for three months, so he entered the 2018-2019 season with some question marks. He’s an older prospect, just a few weeks from being eligible for last year’s draft but he has shown a lot of growth in his game.
From a metric called the Prospect Graduation Probabilities System (pGPS) developed by Jeremy Davis from CanucksArmy, Elite Prospects, who also had him highest among our consensus ranking sources at 51, says that 20.7% of people who had Fairbrother’s production went onto becoming NHL regulars with an additional 23% being depth or fringe players for their teams.
Fairbrother was the 85th ranked North American skater at mid-season but rose to 50th by their final rankings. He was 108th in our consensus rankings with six sets of rankings in his profile. Three of them had him at 77th or higher in their rankings.
He’s not a dynamic offensive talent, but he shows enough skills to show that he is capable in that zone. He has solid puck skills.
He likes to jump into the offensive zone but he’s even better in the defensive end. Fairbrother is very good at defending off the rush and at making the right pass to exit the zone. He’s able to consistently make the right reads and doesn’t try to be too creative with the puck. He contributed both on the penalty kill and on the second power play in Everett.
He’s a very strong skater and moves very well from side to side. He likes to jump into the rush and is able to finish his plays, but his biggest weakness may be that he doesn’t have one standout skill in his game.
Despite not being the biggest player, he is able to play a physical game that he adds to a well-rounded offensive game, but he likely won’t blow you away.
Elite Prospects: #51
Future Considerations: #79
Next Gen Hockey: #62
NHL Central Scouting: #50 (NA skaters)
Will Scouching: #102
Hockey Prospect: “Excelled defending off the rush where he used good feet, positioning, and instincts to contain opponents to the outside. These same strengths helped him defending out of the corners, in 1 on 1 situations he was rarely beat. Off the puck he showed good positional awareness, not getting caught up in no man’s land.”
Future Considerations: “He doesn’t play a high-octane brand of skilled hockey, but he knows how to control the puck effectively and brandish his body if he must go to a tough area of the ice. His offensive game gained a lot of traction down the stretch thanks to his growing confidence in his abilities. Fairbrother has high marks for his consistency and has a very low floor and is likely to become a regular player in the National Hockey League, but it is possible that he may top out as a player on the bottom pairing as a good number five defenceman.”
McKeen’s: “He is not a safe player, per se, and his physical game is almost dynamic. And considering how much his game has grown this year, there is also the off chance that he can grow into even more, but it is not something we would project yet.”
Elite Prospects: “His skating abilities, hockey IQ, and shooting prowess are the main the attributes that stand out about his game.”