To coach Sutter, Ehrhoff and Forbort are ‘the same guy’

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Tonight at Staples Center, for the second game in a row, young Derek Forbort will take veteran Christian Ehrhoff‘s spot on the Kings’ third defense pairing.

Forbort, 23, played 14:06 Saturday and had an assist in the 4-1 win over Florida.

Ehrhoff was a healthy scratch. The 33-year-old is a team-worst minus-7, if you’re looking for reasons why.

Kings coach Darryl Sutter sees similarities between the two defensemen, even if their ages are quite different.

“Christian’s older, so you’ve got to manage his games and make sure he gets his pace and keeps his execution and his compete up, and same with Derek,” Sutter told L.A. Kings Insider. “He has to learn about pace, execution and compete. So maintaining that with Christian and getting Derek to be there certainly gives us the same guy.”

Which player emerges as Sutter’s preferred choice will be worth watching as the season progresses. Certainly, the Kings would love to see Forbort reach the potential they saw when they drafted him 15th overall in 2010. Ehrhoff, in contrast, is a pending unrestricted free agent that the club signed in August for a bargain $1.5 million cap hit.

The Kings host the Coyotes tonight.

Related: Kings’ Forbort will make NHL debut, last of ’10 first-rounders to do so