Defense was the area of need this off-season for the Winnipeg Jets, but the team had only succeeded in re-signing their own free agent blue liners. That has now changed, as a new face is heading to Winnipeg. The Jets have signed Derek Forbort, reports TSN’s Darren Dreger. It is a one-year, $1MM for Forbort, who will look to prove that he is still an everyday defenseman.
It was a strange season for Forbort, marred by injury. After three solid seasons with the Los Angeles Kings, in which he played 78+ games and averaged more than 20 minutes, Forbort missed 43 games with a back injury and then played a limited role and struggled to produce offensively when he returned. The Kings dealt Forbort to the Calgary Flames at the trade deadline, by which time Forbort was looking like his old self. However, he only got into seven regular season games before the league’s pause and ten playoff games before the Flames were eliminated. Clearly, that small sample size made it difficult for Forbort to argue that he had fully recovered from his injury issue and had returned to form.
However, the Jets need defense and Forbort could end up winning a top-four role and cashing in next summer. A big, physical defenseman who dominates on the penalty kill, Forbort is an old-fashioned stay-at-home defenseman. Winnipeg will appreciate his propensity for shot-blocking and ability to win puck battles. While Forbort will face competition for starts and ice time with Nathan Beaulieu and Luca Sbisa on the left side, it’s a battle he should win. This could prove to be a shrewd signing for the Jets.
One other note on this deal: because it is the Jets and not the Flames signing Forbort, the Flames will send a 2021 fourth-round pick to the Flames to complete their deadline deal. Had Forbort returned to Calgary, it would have been a 2022 third-round selection going to L.A. in the trade.