Derek Forbort was the first of the Boston Bruins‘ signings announced this summer. The B’s were certainly confident in Forbort’s abilities, as they gave him a three-year, $9 million contract. The primary purpose of this move was to help strengthen the left side of their defensive group. When seeing where he played during the preseason, it appears that he is going to have a large role with the team as well.
In 56 games this past season with the Winnipeg Jets, Forbort scored two goals and had 12 points. It was a notable improvement of play, as he had just one assist in 20 games the season before with the Los Angeles Kings and Calgary Flames. However, the 6’4″ defenseman was able to regain his previous form and Boston is hoping he will continue to follow this trend.
Forbort, a 2010 first-round pick, has never been dominant offensively. In his three previous season with the Kings, he recorded 18 points twice and 14 during the 2018-19 campaign. Yet, he has become effective in this league because of his defense-first style of play and high degree of physicality. With Kevan Miller retiring this summer, the Bruins needed to get tougher on the blue line. Although Forbort plays on the left side, he certainly is capable of being rather imposing.
In his 56 games last season with the Jets, he recorded 80 hits, which is certainly not a number to scoff at. In his previous three full seasons in the league, he had at least 100 hits in each of them. However, the 2016-17 season is most noteworthy, as he had 180. Therefore, he can be an extremely tenacious player on the backend. That’s not a bad thing at all if he remains disciplined. His career-high in penalty minutes is just 54, so this shouldn’t be an issue for him.
Where will he fit in the Bruins’ lineup?
At this point in time, the Bruins have been playing Forbort on the top pair with Charlie McAvoy. Forbort has never been a top-two defenseman, so it’s a bit of interesting call and something that may not have been predicted previously. Furthermore, Matt Grzelcyk was McAvoy’s partner last season and in terms of offense, it was his best year to date. He had five goals and 20 points in 37 games, which was a notable increase in production for him.
Yet, even with all of this being so, the Bruins are in a position where they can honestly test new things out. McAvoy began his career with Zdeno Chara, another tall defenseman, so maybe playing with Forbort will provide him with more familiarity in that aspect. As previously noted, Forbort is also more of a defensive-minded defenseman, so that is likely something else Bruce Cassidy is considering. Yet, if Forbort does not seem to fit on the pairing during the regular season, there’s no harm in giving him bottom-pair minutes.
When it comes to the B’s special teams, fans should expect him to be utilized on the penalty kill. It’s unlikely he will be given much power play time, especially when looking at the Bruins’ roster. Still, though, crazier things have happened, so we will have to wait and see.
Overall, it will be intriguing to see how Forbort does in his first season with the Bruins. If all goes according to plan, he should be a nice upgrade on the left side. He may not be the star left-handed defenseman Bruin fan wanted, but he is still an NHL-caliber defenseman who will provide the team with a little more grit and overall stability.