Rink and Run blog: Forbort taken in first round of NHL draft
By: Kevin Pates, Duluth News Tribune
Defenseman Derek Forbort became the first Duluth native to be chosen in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft, selected 15th overall by the Los Angeles Kings on Friday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The Kings made a trade Friday with the Florida Panthers for the No. 15 pick. He was the second American taken and the second college-bound player.
The No. 15 overall position is the highest for a player from the Northland in the history of the Entry Draft.
“I had my family and friends around me and tried to stay calm, but this was a pretty exciting, unbelievable feeling. It was a little nerve wracking and a little hard to sit still,” Forbort said from Los Angeles. “I'm overwhelmed with joy at being picked. I'm just thrilled with the outcome.”
Forbort, 18, played last season, as a high school senior, with USA Hockey’s Under-18 National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich. He had five goals and 23 assists for 28 points in 65 games for a U.S. team that won a second straight World U18 championship in April in Belarus. While with Duluth East in 2008-09 as a high school junior, he was a 2009 News Tribune All-Area team selection and a Minnesota Associated Press honorable mention pick.
Forbort, 6-4½ and 198 pounds, entered the draft ranked No. 9 among North American skaters by the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau. He will be a freshman at the University of North Dakota this fall. Minnesota Duluth recruit Justin Faulk, also a defenseman with the USA U18 team last season, was ranked No. 56 and is expected to be selected in the draft’s second round, which begins at noon today (NHL Network).
“He deserves to be a high first-round pick because he’s got everything a great player needs,” former USA U18 coach Kurt Kleinendorst told the News Tribune last month about Forbort. “He has hockey smarts and great poise with the puck. He can pass or carry the puck up ice. He probably doesn’t know how good he is yet. He’s the real deal.”
Phoenix and Dallas had the most pre-draft interest in Forbort, he said, while he spent about two minutes with L.A. Kings officials during the NHL Scouting Combine last month in Toronto. Forbort was in Los Angeles with his mother and father, Mary and Keith, and younger brothers, Nick and Jack. He said he'll be taking part in the team's rookie camp next week.
USA U18 goalie Jack Campbell of Port Huron, Mich., was the first American taken in the draft, going to Dallas at No. 11, while center Jaden Schwartz of Wilcox, Saskatchewan, was the first college-bound player taken, going to St. Louis at No. 14. Schwartz is headed to Colorado College, where his brother, Rylan, will be a sophomore in 2010-11. Jaden Schwartz led the U.S. Hockey League in scoring in 2009-10 with 83 points in 60 games for Tri-City of Kearney, Neb.
The Florida Panthers were to pick at No. 15, but the Kings traded their 19th and 59th picks to move up and take Forbort. At No. 19, Florida took 2010 Minnesota Mr. Hockey, center Nick Bjugstad of Blaine, a University of Minnesota recruit.
Northland athletes taken in the first two rounds the past 20 years are: forward Rusty Fitzgerald of Duluth, second round, 38th overall, by Pittsburgh in 1991; forward Jamie Langenbrunner of Cloquet, second round, 35th overall, by Dallas in 1993; defenseman Alex Goligoski of Grand Rapids, second round, 61st overall, by Pittsburgh in 2004; defenseman Matt Niskanen of Mountain Iron, second round, 28th overall, by Dallas in 2005; and forwards Patrick White of Grand Rapids, first round, 25th overall, by Vancouver, and forward Nico Sacchetti of Virginia, second round, 50th overall, by Dallas in 2007.
The most successful defenseman from Duluth to play in the NHL was Sean Hill, selected in the eighth round by Montreal in 1988. He played in 876 regular-season games over 15 years through 2008.