In 2010, the NHL draft was held at the Staples Center for the first time, and the Los Angeles Kings traded up to draft defenseman Derek Forbort in the first round. Nearly three years later, we'll finally get a chance to see one of our top prospects at the professional level. The first to break the news was Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald...
Source says Derek Forbort signing with Kings is imminent. Could happen as soon as today. Three-year deal.— Schlossman (@SchlossmanGF) April 5, 2013
...and the Los Angeles Kings' official announcement came a few hours later. The Duluth native had just completed his junior season at the University of North Dakota, and after they were upset by Yale in the NCAA West Regional final, Dean Lombardi went straight to work on getting Forbort signed. Wisconsin's Michael Mersch and Denver's Nick Shore could be next on Lombardi's agenda, though it is unclear whether they are ready or willing to make the jump. Forbort tweeted a message of appreciation for North Dakota soon after the deal was announced.
Can't thank the awesome people of Grand Forks enough for everything over the past 3 years. What a special place. #rolltribe— Derek Forbort (@derek4bort) April 6, 2013
As mentioned above, Forbort was the #15 pick in the 2010 Draft; while Southern California native Emerson Etem was seen as the more exciting pick, Forbort was the consensus best defenseman available, and the Kings clearly needed further help on the blue line at the time. (Choosing a defenseman first worked out pretty well, as Los Angeles used their second round pick on an exciting winger named Tyler Toffoli.) From there, Forbort grew into a solid all-around defenseman at UND, and he was one of only four players to play in all 42 games for North Dakota this season. He also was a member of the bronze medal-winning US team at the 2011 World Junior Championships. While his offensive game could use some improvement, he played on the PK and PP and will bring size (he's 6'5") and plenty of defensive skill to Manchester. The Monarchs sit five points out of a playoff spot, but even if they miss the playoffs, it's a good chance for Forbort to get some experience at the professional level.
For more on Forbort, see below!