Gianni Fairbrother was a player that saw his draft stock dramatically rise towards the end of the season and rightfully so. He got more assertive in the second half of the campaign and really took charge on one of the best teams in the WHL. Everett’s season didn’t end the way that they hoped, but for Fairbrother, from an individual perspective, had a very promising finish.
His point totals won’t jump off the page at you, but there are so many likable aspects to his game that his exclusion from many public rankings is likely a misstep. He’s also a lower mainland B.C. kid, and you can’t go wrong there!
Today we’ll take a closer look at WHL defenceman Gianni Fairbrother.
- Age/Birthdate: 18 / September 30, 2000
- Birthplace: North Vancouver, B.C. CAN
- Frame: 6-foot-0 / 194 lbs
- Position: D
- Handedness: L
- Draft Year Team: Everett Silvertips (WHL)
- CSSHL E15 Top Defenseman
2018-19 Stat Rundown
|GP||G||A||P||INV%||5v5 Pr INV%||5v5 ePr60||SEAL||Sh/GP||Sh%||5v5 eTOI||GF%||GF%rel||GD60 rel||XLS%||Top XLS%||XPR|
Fairbrother is a well-rounded defenceman who doesn’t have a standout trait but does everything pretty well.
Like so many defensive prospects over the last few years, Fairbrother is a very good skater who is quite agile on his feet. He effectively uses his skating ability to guide his opponents out of danger. He is very adept at moving around with the puck on his stick, be that in transition or while trying to create plays in the offensive zone. He doesn’t have a particularly high-end top speed but gets around the ice well enough relying mostly on his agility to create space.
The North Vancouver-native is willing to be physical along the boards in the sense that he ensures his opponents don’t leave the boards with the puck. Everett was particularly diligent during the regular season in only allowing one opportunity before the puck was cleared from the slot. Their structure didn’t allow opponents to overwhelm them in front and Fairbrother’s physical play was a big part of that.
He is effective in the defensive zone using an active stick, skating, and his body to neautralize any major threat that the opposing team is trying to create.
Fairbrother is not afraid to drop the gloves and had a few tilts this past season. It’s not something we generally look for in a prospect, but given his play-style, it’s good to see that he plays with that degree of aggression.
On the offensive side, Fairbrother got more aggressive in the second half of the season and would pinch a lot more to join the attack. He is strong in adjusting his shooting lanes and getting the puck past the first defender. A lot of his offence was created as a result of this.
I’ve really liked his puck control and stickhandling in quite few viewings this season. He isn’t the flashiest player but seems to make the smart play far more often than not. He got better as the year went along and in turn we saw the Silvertips reward him with more ice time.
If there is one concern, it’s that he isn’t elite in any single attribute. His skating is above average, his defensive zone work and play away from the puck are strong, and his offensive game is simple, yet effective.
Fairbrother is a player that I have been high on for some time and think is someone to target from the third round onward. He stood out in a few viewings early in the season, but was mentioned to me in early March as someone to keep a closer eye on. I then went back and watched a bunch of games to get a real read on him.
At the NHL CSS Mid-Term rankings, Fairbrother was ranked 85th and rose up to 50th in the final rankings in April, which coincides with his ice-time increasing and his play taking noticeable steps forward.
The Silvertips really struggled in the second round of the WHL playoffs against Spokane; the Chiefs were able to penetrate the Silvertips structure and get second chances. The Silvertips were unable to react in time and were promptly out in the second round. Fairbrother played well in that series but wasn’t able to be a difference maker.
When using pGPS, Fairbrother’s likelihood of success comes out at 21%, putting him right in line with many second round players. Given that he had a less than 5% likelihood of success after his draft-minus-one season, there’s reason for optimism in that his career path is trending in the right direction and may continue to do so with a larger role next season.
For a player like Fairbrother, you have to add the context of just how strong a team Everett was during the regular seasons. His GF%rel of minus-10% looks poor, but the Silvertips controlled 5-on-5 goals at such a high rate that the norm is distorted and unrealistic expectations are set. That line of thinking is reinforced by Fairbrother’s teammates chart:
Fairbrother was among the defensive leaders in terms of points-per-60 but in the middle of the pack for goals-for percentage.
He performed well with his most common linemates, but several of his teammates performed better away from him. Given that he still had an overall goals-for percentage of 62.5% at 5-on-5, it’s not much of a concern. Really, it further demonstrates how powerful Everett was.
Ultimately, Fairbrother is not a player that I would be targeting in the first two rounds, as there will almost certainly be a player with a higher upside still on the board. But he has some really interesting things working for him.
I think he slipped under the radar a bit to start the season and his second-half play is more a clearer indication of what he can be on a nightly basis going forward: a defenceman that can play in all three zones, has good skating abilities, and isn’t afraid to muck it up with physical play. He may not be a player that will explode offensively next season but I firmly believe he is a player that will continue an upward trajectory towards a professional career and could look like a good value bet later on in this draft.
Rolling Season Data
Raw data for the charts used in this article came from eliteprospects.com and WHL.ca
Clips were pulled from original broadcasts, with all rights reserved for the original broadcast companies.
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