Chris Dilks of the Western College Hockey blog takes a look at defenseman Derek Forbort of Duluth in advance of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft on June 25.
Name: Derek Forbort
Weight: 198 lbs.
09-10 Team: NTDP U18
09-10 stats: 65 games played, 5 goals, 23 assists, 28 points
Defenseman Derek Forbort has been a fun player to watch because he is one of the rare players that not only had all the tools to be talented, but has managed to find a way to put them all together and become a special player. His sophomore year at Duluth East HS, Forbort was definitely a talented player, but didn't do much to separate himself from a multitude of big, talented US-born defensemen in his age class. He was big, but a little slow-footed while he adjusted to his body, and not all that physical. He had a big shot, but too much of a tendency to let the game come to him rather than making plays. He was invited to the NTDP's evaluation camp that spring, but didn't make the team.
By the next fall, it was clear that not playing in Ann Arbor was a mistake. Forbort's foot speed improved tremendously and he was dominating over the best high school players in the state in the Upper Midwest Elite League. Later that year, he led Duluth East to the state high school tournament.
Heading into his senior year of high school, and draft year, he decided to take an invitation to join the NTDP in Ann Arbor, much to the chagrin of his high school coach. Throughout this year, Forbort has continued to prove his dominance wasn't just the result of weaker competition, and has improved his physicality by playing against teams from the USHL and NCAA, compared to the relatively soft Minnesota HS league.
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.
Forbort will be a freshman at the University of North Dakota next season.
Strengths: Athleticism, Hockey smarts
Needs to Improve: Physical play, Putting up points
It's a little tough to project exactly where Forbort will go in the draft. He certainly belongs in the top 15, but there is a group of defenseman in the top half of the first round that includes Cam Fowler, Erik Gudbranson, Brandon Gormley, Forbort, Jon Merrill, and Mark Pysyk that are all tremendously talented. It all could come down to the personal preference of the team doing the drafting.
As for his future, Forbort will likely need a year to adjust to the rigors of college hockey next season, and if he continues to develop, would likely be ready to sign an NHL contract after his sophomore season. From there, he has the potential to someday be a top pairing defenseman.