One quick bit from LAK HQ in El Segundo: Derek Forbort, who will be a major actor in vying to earn a spot amidst a logjam of players on the blue line, underwent successful surgery shortly after the NHL Draft and is expected to be 100% ready to play at the start of training camp. I’m told by hockey operations that the surgery was to correct an issue in the area of his abdomen.
It’s a big camp for Forbort, who is waiver eligible for the first time in 2016-17. Given the locks on defense in Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Brayden McNabb and Alec Martinez, he’s part of an assortment of players – some of whom have extensive NHL experience – competing for a regular depth role on the back end. Rob Scuderi, Matt Greene, Zach Trotman, Tom Gilbert and Kevin Gravel will also be battling for available minutes past the established top-four, and only Gravel is eligible to be assigned to AHL-Ontario without clearing waivers. That doesn’t necessarily put him at a disadvantage, because in his limited minutes last season, he gave an inclination that he’d be able to play at an NHL pace, and correspondence earlier in the off-season was pretty high on Gravel. But given that Matt Greene has played only three games since the end of the 2014-15 season, and that preseason injuries affect roster construction, the clearest picture of the blue line won’t be formed until a glut of the preseason games have been played.
Forbort registered one goal, two points, a minus-one rating and 17 shots on goal in 14 games last season. He graded well-possession wise, though there’s nowhere nearly enough data to get a real sense of his ability to drive play, given that he faced the softest competition out of any King who played at least 100 minutes, and received a high percentage of offensive zone starts. Los Angeles management will be interested to see whether he’s able to play every day in the team’s top six and can continue to work on his outlet passes, based on correspondence.
Forbort signed a two-year, $1.3-million contract in July.