April 5, 2013 7:58 pm

Derek Forbort signs, will join Manchester

The Los Angeles Kings have signed NCAA-based defensive prospect Derek Forbort to a three-year entry level contract, thus ending the 21-year-old’s three-year affiliation with the University of North Dakota.

Forbort, a former member of the U.S. National Team Development Program and bronze medalist at the 2011 World Junior Championships, was selected in the first round, 15th overall, when the Kings hosted the 2010 NHL Draft at Staples Center.

The 6-foot-5, 207 pound defenseman skates well for a player of his size and earned power play time in addition to his more traditional top-pairing shut-down role. He finished with career highs in goals (four) and points (17) over 42 games in 2012-13 before North Dakota lost 4-1 to Yale in the NCAA West Regional Final last Saturday.

A rangy, positionally sound defenseman, Forbort will report to the Manchester Monarchs for the remainder of the American Hockey League season. Though he’ll certainly be given a look at training camp in September, 2013, he’s going to need additional time playing professionally in the AHL before he’s seen as a viable candidate to earn minutes on Los Angeles’ blue line. Generally speaking, defensemen take time to develop. While an NHL stint could be in the cards one season from now, the earliest he should likely be considered a viable option to earn consistent NHL minutes is in the 2014-15 season. Still, any objective scouting projection on Forbort will have to be recalibrated after his upcoming month of professional hockey.

The Kings may also be in the process of courting and signing a pair of collegiate-based 2011 picks. Third-rounder Nick Shore, who led Denver with 34 points, and Wisconsin’s Michael Mersch, a fourth round pick who led the Badgers with 23 goals, could also be close to signing.

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