J.P. Hoornstra, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/The Sun
It wasn't the biggest trade Friday, but it did produce the largest cheers of the night to that point at the NHL entry draft.
The Kings traded up four picks to make their only first-round selection and took defenseman Derek Forbort 15th overall.
Forbort, who plays for the U.S. Under-18 development team, is considered a strong skater in addition to his natural physical gifts. At 6-foot-4 1/2, he was the second-tallest player drafted in the first round - and he's only 18 years old.
The native of Duluth, Minn., will play at the University of North Dakota next season and is considered several seasons away from the NHL, but that's all right with the Kings, who already have a system deep with defensemen.
"I like when you can do that, when you can put a kid in college and let him go, as long as he's in a good program," general manager Dean Lombardi said. "We've let all our other defensemen develop. We can take our time with (Forbort) now."
Forbort compared his playing style with that of Chris Pronger, the 6-foot-6 former Ducks defenseman who's carved out a 17-season NHL career as one of the league's most intimidating blueliners. He was surprised to be drafted by the Kings because of a two-minute interview at the NHL's Scouting Combine in Toronto in April.
"It went well," he said. "It was just a quick interview."
Lombardi believed Forbort was the last player available in a group of players with similar talent, but he had to trade up to get him. In exchange for the right to draft Forbort, the Florida Panthers received the Kings' No. 19 and No. 59 picks.
The Kings previously acquired the 59th pick, the second-to-last pick of the second round, from the Philadelphia Flyers. They already have their own second-round pick at 49th overall.
"I had tried to move up, like, three or four picks before, then you find one and the guy's still there," Lombardi said. "He was the last one drafted that was in that bracket. It just all goes into value in the slot."
Lombardi's move was not unique during an active day for trade talks. The largest move saw the Florida Panthers trade veteran defenseman Keith Ballard along with forward Victor Oreskovich to the Vancouver Canucks for forwards Steve Bernier and Michael Grabner, as well as the 25th overall pick.
There were several other smaller swaps that will continue to have implications as the draft moves into its second day today. Round 2 begins at 10 a.m. at Staples Center.
The Montreal Canadiens swapped their first-round pick (Jarred Tinordi, 22nd overall) and a fourth-rounder to the Phoenix Coyotes for a second- rounder and the 27th overall pick (Mark Visentin).
For Forbort, knowing the Kings moved up in the draft specifically for his services was a great feeling.
"They've got two really good defensemen in (Drew) Doughty and (Jack) Johnson," Forbort said. "I hope to be part of that one day."