The current season is a big one for Everett Silvertips defenseman Gianni Fairbrother.
Expectations for Fairbrother — who has taken on roles as a top-four defenseman and as a member of Everett’s power-play squad — have increased. The North Vancouver native is eligible for the 2019 NHL draft and was projected as a fourth- to sixth-round prospect by the NHL Central Scouting. The upcoming draft will be hosted at the Rogers Centre in Vancouver, the home arena for the NHL’s Canucks, the team Fairbrother grew up rooting for.
Fairbrother, though, downplays the importance of playing well to impress scouts.
“I think I’m just trying to take it one day at a time. (I’m) approaching this year like I would any year coming in from the summer,” Fairbrother said. “I know if I play well with the team and if the team does well, then it will look better on me.”
That’s a great attitude for Fairbrother to harbor, Silvertips head coach Dennis Williams said.
“I think the mindset for him needs to be less is more,” Williams said. “He sometimes gets himself into trouble trying to overcompensate and do too much out there. His biggest asset is his skating strength, he’s got a good shot and he makes good first passes. Good plays, defends hard, blocks pucks. If he keeps to that and thinks about just moving the pucks north and joining the rush. … it’s what we expected.”
There were high hopes for Fairbrother last season, but a separated shoulder — an injury sustained while trying to grab Portland’s Reece Newkirk during a fight on Dec. 6 — warranted surgery and sidelined him for about three months.
“Wasn’t worth it,” Fairbrother said. “(The recovery) definitely wasn’t easy. I worked hard to be an everyday player and then a couple of months into the season being sidelined with an injury. But I don’t know, it probably made me stronger, mentally and physically.”
The left-handed defenseman played in 33 regular-season games, posting five points, and eventually regained his role for the postseason, playing in all 22 of Everett’s playoff games, compiling four points.
Fairbrother has yet to record a point in six games with the Silvertips this season, but Williams said Fairbrother is having a solid season.
“I think Gianni has done a good job,” Williams said. “We’ve expected him to be a big contributor and a big player and he’s showing it.”