From now until the beginning of training camp, Boston Hockey Now is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2022-23 Boston Bruins. Today’s player: Derek Forbort.
Social Media handles: Instagram – @derekforbort4
What Happened Last Year: With longtime Boston Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller retiring on July 14, 2021, Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney didn’t waste any time bringing in what he hoped would be a suitable replacement as the team’s resident stay-at-home defenseman. Two weeks later, on the first day of 2021 free agency, Sweeney signed 29-year-old, unrestricted free agent defenseman Derek Forbort to a three-year, $9 million contract.
While the typical sally downers of the Bruins fan base is still questioning this signing, the real hockey fans can admit that this was easily Sweeney’s best signing of the ten he made on 2021 NHL Free Agent Frenzy Day. Forbort finished third on the team behind Charlie McAvoy (130), and Brandon Carlo (104), with 100 blocked shots in the regular season. He had four goals and ten assists in 76 games and was a plus 2. However, it was in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs first round series against the Carolina Hurricanes that Forbort’s worth really shined through. Derek Forbort and Connor Clifton formed a formidable shut down pairing and the six-foot-four, 217-pound Forbort finished the seven-game series with 18 blocked shots and an astonishing nine blocked shots in a Game 3 win.
“I love that guy,” gushed Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman after Game 6. “He’s been doing that for us all year, too. Nothing new for him. He does everything for the team, for the crest. And it shows. Guys play hard for him. He does the same for us. Awesome person to have in front of you.”
The not-so-good: Honestly, there’s really no on-ice ‘not-so-good’ for Forbort from this puck scribe. I’ll admit, maybe the $3 million cap hit is a bit high for a third pairing defenseman given the dire salary cap situation for the Boston Bruins, but he showed his worth when it counted most, in the postseason.
Questions To Be Answered This Season: With both Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy out long-term to start the 2022-23 season, Forbort very likely will be forced into some second or even first pairing minutes. Given his physical play and willingness to dive in front of blistering slapshots, will his body be able to handle the increased workload?
In Their Words: “Those are things that we notice as teammates throughout the course of the year,” said Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron, when asked about Forbort’s contributions with the little details that help win hockey games. “It’s in the shadows, right, and you worry a lot about points and whatnot from the outside [during the regular season]. But for him in the playoffs every inch matters and every play matters, every blocked shot matters. He’s been great and he took it upon himself to be his best every night. His penalty killing has been outstanding. The way he kills, it’s tough to play against. It’s well-deserved that he’s getting some recognition [now], but we’ve seen all this before.” – Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron on Derek Forbort after Game 6 against the Hurricanes.
Overall Outlook: As mentioned above, Forbort’s body and endurance will be tested through the first two months of the season but if new head coach Jim Montgomery and his staff can find a rhythm and happy medium for him and what the team needs from him, look for another solid season from Derek Forbort.