2015 Top 25 Under 25, #10: Derek Forbort
Is it finally his time?
It's been five years since was 4Bort drafted. Will he FINALLY get a shot in the NHL this year? Probably not. At least not right out of training camp since he's waiver eligible.
|Rank||Player||DOB||Nationality||Draft||Current League||2014 Rank|
|10||Derek Forbort||7/13/1991||CAN||15 (1st)||AHL (Ontario Reign)||15|
Born Mar 4 1992 -- Duluth, MN
Height 6.04 -- Weight 218 -- Shoots Left
|2008-09||USNTDP Under-18 Team||NAHL||2||0||1||1||6|
|2009-10||U.S. National Under-18 Team||USHL||26||4||10||14||26||--||--||--||--||--|
|2010-11||U. of North Dakota||WCHA||38||0||15||15||26|
|2011-12||U. of North Dakota||WCHA||35||2||11||13||28|
|2012-13||U. of North Dakota||WCHA||42||4||13||17||22|
Let's get this out of the way quickly: Forbort was taken 15th overall in the 2010 draft with the following players still on the board:
Something something WHAT COULD'VE BEEN, something something TWO CUPS IN THREE YEARS, something something OFFENSE DEFENSE GRIT HEART SIZE.
Ok, does everyone feel better now? If it makes any difference, the Kings drafted Tyler Toffoli at 47th overall. But I digress.
Let's back to Forbort. Yes, he is still the only remaining player taken in the first round of the 2010 draft that has not played a regular season (or even playoff) game in the NHL.
After three years at the University of North Dakota, the 6'4 defenseman decided to forego his senior year and turn pro. He had, by all accounts, somewhat of a rocky start to his rookie season as he learned to adjust to a more difficult league and faster pace of play but apparently grew by leaps and bounds in his sophomore AHL season.
Originally thought to have some offensive potential, it's pretty clear that that is actually not going to happen. He did score a couple of goals in Manchester last season, but I'd expect more of a Willie Mitchell-type player out of Forbort than a Jake Muzzin.
At the beginning of the 2014-15 season, Monarchs head coach Mike Stothers rotated the seven healthy bodies before he finally settled on a combination of Forbort and Kevin Gravel as his third pairing.
Since Colin Miller is gone, Forbort has become the clear #1 defense prospect with only Gravel who could potentially (but not likely) overshadow him.
Forbort is a smooth skater who was often criticized for the lack of physical element in his game, though he seems to have found a nice balance between "crash and bang" and avoiding all physical contact. He has a good transition game, so he could potentially pick up points via assists, but occasionally tries to rush a play after making an incorrect read and he appears to be fairly disciplined as his PIM were among the lowest of defensemen who played significant minutes for the Monarchs.
Back in February when Forbort was recalled for his first cup of coffee, Stothers told the New Hampshire Union Leader that the team would miss the big blueliner.
"I would say he has probably been — and it’s not a disservice to any of the other D — he has probably been the most consistent defenseman," Stothers said. "(I like) the fact that his play hasn’t had a real high or a real low. Every night you kind of know what you’re going to get from (Forbort). "
Stothers went on to praise his dman by saying,
"I think he’s turned into a very solid defender. He’s big, he’s lanky, he’s got a good stick, he skates well. He is suited for today’s game in the NHL."
As a Willie Mitchell-esque replacement, Forbort is a decent match. He uses his long reach to break up plays and uses his body to make meaningful contact as opposed to hitting for the sake of hitting. He is also highly praised for a good sense of steadiness and consistency, though he isn't really known to have any snarl.
There is potential for him to make the Kings' NHL roster out of training camp this year, especially given the now-resolved complexities with Slava Voynov and the seventh D spot still available even with the Christian Ehrhoff signing. Forbort appears to be poised on the verge of a serious breakout and a good year in
Manchester Ontario could see him join the big club permanently. However, unless he has a stellar -- and I mean, so super spectacular that he blows everyone away with how amazing he is -- training camp, he'll likely go the way of Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson and other such prospects who spend all their some time in the AHL.
To borrow a phrase from Don Maloney, it might be time to "fish or cut bait" with Forbort.