A Month of Gratitude: Derek Forbort, Dion Phaneuf, Oscar Fantenberg

Today we’re thankful for defense.

A season like this is tough to watch, and we all find ourselves being pretty hard on the Los Angeles Kings as they struggle to right the ship. For the rest of November, we’ll be taking some time each day to share why we’re thankful for each player on the team (and some Kings of years past). If you’d like to share your love for a Kings player, past or present, check out our call for submissions.

Derek Forbort

The defenseman took the long route to the NHL after being the Kings’ first round pick in 2010. He played three full years of college followed by two and a half seasons in the AHL before becoming a full-time NHLer.

But ever since making it to the show, Forbort has carved out a role for himself on the top pairing for the Kings, spending the bulk of his time alongside Drew Doughty. From the 2016-17 season to today, Forbort’s spent over 2,190 minutes on ice with Doughty. Their differing styles of play — Forbort more of a north-south guy, Doughty more of a “do whatever makes me happy” guy — work well together, with the predictability of Forbort’s game making it easy for Doughty to play his own game.

He’s not going to score a ton of goals — his career high in the NHL is two — which makes every goal all the more precious.

So, yes, we’re thankful for Derek Forbort’s presence on ice, his steady game that frees up the team’s #1 defenseman to make his own plays.

But, well, if you ask me, what I’m most thankful for about Forbort is his delightfully odd social media presence—

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Pretty hot seagull

A post shared by Derek Fobort (@derekforbort4) on

—and his willingness to let the Kings social media team make fun of him — to the point where the Kings Instagram has an entire section in their stories devoted to gently teasing Forbort.

Besides, not many people who would admit out loud that they don’t know what a chicken is.

Thanks for the entertainment, Derek!

Dion Phaneuf

The veteran defenseman joined the Kings last season when Rob Blake decided to make maybe the first big trade of his tenure as GM. Joining the team along with Nate Thompson, Phaneuf quickly became a fixture on the blue line.

Trading for Phaneuf was a rumor that swirled around the Kings for several years, and the team finally got their man. Somewhere, wherever he is, Dean Lombardi probably had to smile just a little bit at that trade.

Phaneuf is mostly known for his big shot from the blue line, but he’s chipped in a fair amount of goals from surprisingly close, including his first in a Kings jersey. Any goals that come from the Kings defense are definitely a good thing, so we’re thankful for Phaneuf’s shot getting through traffic and to the net, one way or another.

He’s also universally regarded as a good leader in the room, and while the Kings aren’t short on experienced players, it can never hurt to have that sort of veteran presence, especially for the  younger defenseman. Former Leaf James van Riemdyk dedicated some time during his recent talk to the Players Tribune to specifically call out how good it was to have Phaneuf around. As the Kings start bringing in younger players, we’re glad they’ll have lots of role models to look up to, including Dion Phaneuf.

Oscar Fantenberg

The Swedish defenseman joined the Kings last year after being signed out of the KHL. A strong training camp earned him a spot on the team last season, though he ultimately would go back and forth between the Kings, where he was sometimes a healthy scratch, and the Reign, where he had the opportunity to play top pairing minutes.

Fantenberg may have really solidified his position on this year’s team by his performance in last year’s brief playoff run, including 41:10 of ice time during the Kings’ 2OT game against Vegas, where Fantenberg took on top pairing duties with Alec Martinez. And while he’s still working on finding his offensive touch here at the NHL level, he’s got a good shot, too.

We’re thankful that Fantenberg chose the Kings as a free agent, and that he’s become a reliable defender for the team who can play up or down in the lineup and still make a difference. Willie Desjardins seems to have taken a liking to him, as he’s been an every-day player for the Kings since the new coaching staff came in, so hopefully we’ll all get to see Fantenberg grow even more as a player.

Previously in our “Month” of Gratitude series: Kyle Clifford | Nate Thompson | Mike Amadio | Paul LaDue | Jake Muzzin | Alec Martinez | Peter Budaj | Cal Petersen | Ilya Kovalchuk | Trevor Lewis | Dustin Brown