It makes sense that Derek Forbort eventually made his way to Boston. His dad named him after Bruins legend Derek Sanderson.
“I actually was named after Derek Sanderson,” the Bruins defenseman said Thursday over Zoom. “He was my dad’s favorite player. That was my first hockey card that I had in my room, was a Derek Sanderson card.”
A connection to Boston isn’t the only box Forbort checks off for the Bruins. The 29-year-old, who signed a three-year deal with a $3 million AAV minutes after free agency opened Wednesday, is a big-bodied blueliner who loves to kill penalties.
At 6-foot-4, 219 pounds, he figures to serve a bottom pairing role for the Bruins but has shown in recent years that he can eat enough minutes and defend well enough to play in a bigger spot when needed.
After losing Jeremy Lauzon and Kevan Miller this offseason, getting somebody with a nose for killing penalties was imperative.
“I love killing penalties,” Forbort said. “That feeling when you kill one off, I’m sure it’s pretty similar to some guys scoring a goal, that’s how I feel about it. If I can contribute there and help the team get wins through that, that’s what I try to focus on. I love doing it.”
Although his calling card is his abilities in his own end, Forbort has shown a little bit of growth in the attacking zone.
Forbort displayed an increased willingness to shoot this past season with the Winnipeg Jets, ultimately recording a pair of goals while adding 10 assists in 56 games. The Bruins like imploring their defensemen to fire shots from the point, which jives with how the last year went for him.
“I’m kind of known as a defensive first defenseman, but there’s always room to jump in, make good plays and get shots through that can help the team offensively,” Forbort said.
The Bruins are getting into a habit of stockpiling players from Minnesota. Jack Ahcan is from Savage, Minn., while Karson Kuhlman is from Duluth. Kuhlman, who helped recruit Ahcan to Boston last year, did the same with Forbort, another Duluth native.
“A big part of it was just the city,” Forbort said when listing the reasons he decided on the Bruins. “It’s always been one of my favorite cities, I love going there. I was talking to Karson Kuhlman and he said it was just a good group of dudes, a fun group to be a part of. They’re obviously very competitive over here, so those are kind of the main things that went into it.”
Free agency has been kind to defensemen thus far, with a number of depth guys like Forbort getting multi-million deals with term on them.
So, it’s no surprise then that a few teams were kicking the tires before the Bruins really started pushing.
“There were some teams floating around, they were decent fits,” Forbort admitted. “But when things started heating up with Boston, I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s where I want to go.’ I love that city, I heard it’s an unbelievable group of guys. They had a need for a defensive defenseman with size, and it worked out good.”
Oh, and as for that Sanderson hockey card?
“I’m sure it’s at my parent’s house somewhere,” Forbort said.
Might be time to dig that up.