When the Victoria Royals acquired Alex Forsberg on Jan. 6, it was never a question of how he would fit with the team, it was only a question of where.
And the Royals’ brass knew that question would take care of itself.
With eight goals and two assists in 10 games, Forsberg has proved them right. The former Saskatoon Blades centre has found a home on the wing of Brandon Magee, where he’s played most his 10 games to date since coming to Victoria with a third and fourth round WHL bantam pick for Victoria’s 2013 fourth round WHL bantam pick Braydon Dunn and a first round pick in 2017.
“There was no surprises (with Forsberg),” said Royals assistant coach Enio Sacilotto. “We had a pretty good idea what we were getting.”
Case in point, there were no unrealistic expectations for the kid who has had to carry the title of “No. 1 overall 2010 WHL Bantam Draft pick.” And while he’s had to bear that label for good or for bad, in Victoria, he’s truly living up to it.
“When I got here (Coach Dave Lowry) just told me to play my game,” said Forsberg, who turned 20 on Jan. 4, and is eligible for one more WHL season. “The thing here is you’re seeing more of the scoring side of me, that’s because I’m getting the puck more at the right times, and (Magee) is good at getting it to me.”
Being back on the wing isn’t a big move, says Forsberg. But it has been a while, as he was 17 the last time he didn’t line up at centre.
For all the criticism Forsberg has taken to this point in not living up to the billing of a first overall draft pick, it’s also important to note he’s headed to the playoffs for the first time since he was a 15-year-old call-up with the Prince George Cougars. It was the 2011 postseason and Forsberg played three games at centre in place of injured star Brett Connolly.
“It was versus the Kelowna Rockets with Tyson Barrie, they were a good team. I scored one goal, but it was a lot of responsibility,” he said.
Now Forsberg is in a place where he can shine, as he’s scoring goals at a clip of 0.8 per game, all while having coach Dave Lowry’s defensive zone tracking “pounded” into him.
“(Lowry) writes it on the board, we work on it in practice,” Forsberg said. “He told me to play the way I play, but the difference is defence.”
For now, Magee is thrilled, and is confident the last 20 games are a chance to win some big games before the Royals enter the playoffs.
“Forsberg is intelligent, he finds open ice, and I like to distribute, so with him having a good shot it complements me really well,” Magee said.
“We’ve brought in a lot of new guys from teams that weren’t winning, but our group is a hungry group, and the new guys just need to find their roles. Forsberg’s play on the puck is physical, (Greg Chase) is an agitator and it’s added to the team.”