The Rangers have the tenth overall pick in the draft, and while some writers think the Rangers will draft a goalie (for some unknown reason), the Rangers most pressing need at the NHL level is a scorer. However, with the Rangers sitting at #10, they might have to employ a “best available” tactic at the draft. If that occurs, the Rangers might wind up taking another defenseman in the first round. In the sixth installment of this series, we look at defenseman Derek Forbort of the US-Under 18 National Team, who is committed to North Dakota for next season.
The 6’4 200 lb defenseman has put together a steady season with the US National Team, putting together a line or 4-10-14 with 26 PIMs in 26 games. Forbort is one of the top defenders available in the draft this year. His offensive awareness provides tremendous upside for any team looking for some scoring from the blue line. He may not like to carry the puck that much, but he makes up for it by making one of the top first passes in the draft. His hockey IQ is top notch, which leads to great decision making with the puck and with his passes. His hockey IQ also directly correlates to his anticipation ability with and without the puck.
Forbort uses his big body to his advantage, utilizing his very long reach to take away opponents passing lanes. He also plays a fairly physical style of play, using his size and strength in the corners and to clear the crease. An exceptional skater, Forbort’s stride appears to be effortless as he carries the puck. In addition to speed, Forbort’s balance, strength and agility make him extremely difficult to knock off the puck. This combination of size and skating strength also makes him difficult to beat in battles in front of the net.
The only knock on Forbort is that he is a very raw talent, but his high ceiling should still put him in the top-10 or top-15 in this year’s draft. Although the Rangers need scoring help, if they cannot trade up, they may go with a best available approach to the draft. Forbort offers a rare combination of size, skill, and speed on the blue line that makes him a hot commodity in the new NHL. Defenseman like Forbort fall in the Drew Doughty category, if his potential is fully met. A top-four of Forbort, Marc Staal, Michael Del Zotto, and Dan Girardi would be one of the best in the league, and would make the Rangers a force to be reckoned with on the blue line for years.
Image Credit: Dave Arnold