Derek Forbort, D U.S. NTDP Under-18 (USHL)
Born: March 4, 1992 in Duluth, Minnesota
Scouting report: As big an upside of any defenseman available in this draft, the Minnesotan also is one of the most raw and will need more than a few years of developmental time before he's ready for an NHL job.
Strengths: Very good skater with agility, balance and power. Opens up his hips in fluid motion when pivoting and can change directions quickly. Outstanding lateral movement and tremendous athleticism and quickness for a big man. Good defensive hockey sense; sees the ice well and makes good decisions in his own end. Strong passer who can outlet the puck quickly and moves it effectively up the ice. Could still be growing; may yet add an inch or more in height and could play 30 pounds heavier than what he is now. Long wingspan gives him an extended reach and he effectively employs the pokecheck. Hard shot from the point. Decent puck distributor in the offensive zone; keeps things simple. Uses his big body to block shots; willing to pay the price for the team. Solid citizen who works hard and is coachable.
Weaknesses: Extremely raw; jump-started his development by leaving Duluth-East high school to join the NTDP, but still has a long way to go. Will spend at least two years at North Dakota and might even be in for the three or four year plan. Has yet to show the consistent aggressiveness in the offensive zone he's capable of. Not as physical as he should be with his size; doesn't seem to have all that much of a mean streak. Needs to add a lot of weight and strength to his frame. Only an average puckhandler-- needs to beef up his skills and carry the puck with more confidence.
Style compares to: Tyler Myers
Draft prediction: 14th overall to St. Louis. This is a terrific get for the Blues, who will add another potential stud Minnesota two-way d-man to one they already have in Erik Johnson. Although Forbort is a long-term project kind of player, he has tremendous upside as a shutdown defender who can also move the puck and chip in on offense. 14th may be too low for this guy, who could easily come off the board around 10 or 11, but his longer timeline is sure to dissuade a team or two from jumping on him when his size and skill would dictate they should. Other potential picks here: Austin Watson, Emerson Etem, Nick Bjugstad and perhaps a surprise pick like Brock Nelson, another Minnesota high schooler (and Dave Christian's nephew) who has a lot of developing to do, but also has a real high ceiling.
Projection: Has No. 1 potential, but would do well as a solid No. 2/3 defender with some special teams acumen. Again, with Forbort, it's all about the projection. If you believe that he'll keep going up in his development, then he's got some major league potential, but any team who picks him with have to do so knowing that he's going to take some time before his body of work is ready for the NHL. He could be a homerun, or he might not ever be as good as what the scouts think he's going to be. But, his stock is high going into the draft, so whatever happens, he won't be waiting very long in the Staples Center.
Background: Parents are Keith and Mary Forbort; both graduated from the University of Minnesota-Duluth, but did not pressure their son to follow in their footsteps. Starred at Duluth-East High (28 points in 21 games in 08-09) as a junior before leaving for the U.S. NTDP to close out the 08-09 campaign. He spent the entire 09-10 season in Ann Arbor. Won a gold medal as member of Team USA at the 2010 World Under-18 Championship. Will skate at the University of North Dakota in the fall. The 9th-ranked North American skater on Central Scouting's final list. Favorite NHL player as a kid: Wendel Clark
“Derek Forbort has good top-end ability at both ends (of the ice). He's smart and skates so well, he's almost 6-5 and he's got everything there in front of him. It's just a matter of filling out and getting more experience. He's probably a top-two defenseman in the NHL if he reaches his potential."- Central Scouting's Jack Barzee to NHL.com
"Huge and a terrific skater with major upside."- Red Line Report, 2010 Draft Guide
“In Forbort, you’re talking about a kid who has that ideal size you want at the position, but who’s also a real good skater and has some offensive upside. He’s going to be a project, but he’s going to a good program and could be one of the better defenseman to come out of this class when all is said and done.”- NHL Western Conference Scout to New England Hockey Journal; June, 2010
“I’ve got to spend a lot of time in the weight room. I’ve got to get bigger, stronger; keep working on that and put on a few pounds. On the ice, my puck skills are what I need to keep working on.”- Derek Forbort to New England Hockey Journal; June, 2010
Forbort Would Fill Major Need For B's