Welcome back to the JftC LA Kings' Top 25 Under 25! I know, I know. You're still trying to catch your breath. After all of the excitement and joy that Dwight King and Jordan Nolan brought to our hearts, it's good that we'll be able to slow down with a defensive defenseman.
||1st round, 15th overall, 2010
Really? He was born in 1992? Hang on. As a recently turned 25-year old, I need to ponder my life for a moment.
Derek Forbort is a big dude. At 6'4'' and near 220 pounds, he is very imposing. Interestingly, he was listed at 6'5'' in a profile written shortly before he was drafted. HE'S SHRINKING. It gets pretty cold in North Dakota, after all.
That writer also wrote these words about him:
Forbort's style of play is a little hard to describe because he can do a little bit of everything. He's got great size and can play a tough defensive game, but also has the offensive abilities to put up his fair share of points. He's not the type of defensemen that is going to make end-to-end rushes deep into the offensive zone, or quarterback a powerplay, but could be a nice #2 defenseman on a top powerplay unit. What really separates Forbort is his tremendous athleticism, lateral movement, and ability to read plays.
Several profiles at the time had kind words about his offensive potential. At the same time, essentially any article about him at that time mentioned that he was a project. He was a big kid that was still a shade under 200 pounds. He still had to grow into his huge frame before anyone really knew what to make of him. All anyone really saw was a very tall defenseman that wasn't lost in any zone. That's a really good thing. However, all of his skills needed to be refined. Time and time again, writers and scouts referred to him as a "raw" player or a "project." Sometimes, even Dean Lombardi used those words. As you can see, the offensive side of his game hasn't really panned out to this point. He's averaged 15 points over 3 nearly-full seasons at North Dakota. Respectable, but not world-beating.
What everyone praised at the time is something everybody really likes about Willie Mitchell. Forbort doesn't panic under pressure. Somewhat unanimously, scouts agree that Derek is good at moving the puck out of his own zone, even if he isn't wont to carry it out himself. He's a solid passer that makes few mistakes with or without the puck. North Dakota used him in a shutdown role on the top pairing. He saw some power play time as well. He received a lot of trust at a very good program.
Not much has changed for Forbort since being drafted. He went through three respectable seasons at North Dakota (another college program that Dean Lombardi is fond of). He finished the 2013 season with Manchester. Again, he was respectable without being flashy. That's basically his game. What has changed is his size. As mentioned, he was under 200 pounds at the time of his selection. He's packed on muscle in the time since. He says that he's up to 218 pounds now.
Forbort describes himself as a Chris Pronger type. In spite of Pronger's poor choice of teams throughout his career, I always loved watching him play. Pronger's ability to pace the game from the back end is matched by basically no players in the game at the moment. Forbort has lofty goals, but if he even reminds us of Pronger once in a while, then we probably will see a pretty good player on the back end for LA in the years to come. Hopefully the added weight is a sign that an intimidating physical game is on its way.
The Kings have good defenders. They have puck-movers. They have Drew Doughty, whom words can faintly describe. While they have stay-at-home guys at present, all of them on the wrong side of 30. Two of them are coming off injury-riddled seasons. At some point in the near future, a spot will be available. Forbort is now in a muddled mix of players fighting for one of those spots. In all honestly, his style of play seems to give him a leg up with this management group. A defensive defender that isn't a shithead with the puck? Make sure you knock before entering Sutter's office.
While he'll start at the bottom of that glut this season, he has plenty of time to establish and develop his game at the pro level. After all, he only recently signed his entry-level contract. He'll start the upcoming season in Manchester.