Entering his sixth NHL season, Drew Doughty has slowly but surely rebuilt his form after a couple of underachieving campaigns. Yet, while it can still be argued that No. 8 can still do more in terms of offensive production, few can deny much he has grown in other departments which makes up for his lack of point production which was decent last year having scored six goals and adding 16 assists while appearing in all of Los Angeles’s 48 regular-season games.
Last season, Drew Doughty led all Kings defensemen with 117 shots as well as leading his entire team in shooting percentage with 19.5. But while his efforts don’t always equate to getting his name on the scoresheet, the 23-year-old’s work ethic is second-to-none as he led his team in ice time last season averaging 26:23 per game with leading the way having averaged 32.9 shifts per contest.
The second-overall pick in the 2008 Draft, Drew Doughty came under a lot of heat two summers ago when he held out for a new contract. When he ultimately re-signed with the Kings, few fans were impressed. In fact, most voiced their displeasure as they couldn’t fathom while a defenseman, who put up lackluster numbers and, in some eyes, just as lackluster of an effort in 2010-11 should be getting approximately $6 million per putting him on par financially with fellow King Anze Kopitar who had been putting up far better numbers than the former Guelph Storm.
Of course, fans of the silver-and-black were quick to forgive Doughty when he became an integral part in the Kings’ first Stanley Cup in franchise history in 2012. While he registered just five points in 18 playoff games that spring, Doughty’s aforementioned work ethic in addition to his superb defensive play caught the attention of most of his fans. The rest, as they say, was history.
Speaking of his defensive prowess, it is noteworthy to mention that Drew Doughty was third on the team last season with 46 blocked shots. Even a few notches were added to his physical game as Doughty finished third on the Kings dishing out 128 hits. He trailed only Kyle Clifford and Dustin Brown in said category. Those numbers certainly aren’t bad considering Doughty’s 6-foot stature makes his smaller than the team’s average in height. Of course, his 212-pound frame makes up for his lack of height (assuming it’s even justified to call it a lack of height).
With all that said, though, I still haven’t mentioned that this coming season has an Olympic break. The last time the NHL had an Olympic break was during the 2009-10 campaign which, to date, was Drew Doughty’s most productive season.
While appearing in all 82 games that season, Doughty scored 16 goals and added 43 assists while accumulating a +20 rating en route to not only a Norris nomination as the league’s top defenseman but to Los Angeles’s first playoff berth in eight years.
Perhaps it’s a coincidence that Doughty’s best season was during his Olympic audition. But perhaps it wasn’t. While the consensus is that Drew Doughty is more of a lock to make the Canadian team in 2014 than he was in 2010, it doesn’t necessarily take away Doughty’s extra determination on the ice this season leading up to the Sochi Games.
I will go out on a limb and say that Drew Doughty will have his best offensive year in recent memory and the upcoming Olympics will be the extra incentive he’ll be looking for and what his teammates, coaching staff and, most importantly, his fans will appreciate. Oh, and expect this to be done while Doughty continues to improve his defensive and physical games.
As his career progresses, Drew Doughty has progressively become one of the best defensemen in the National Hockey League – and that will be once again showcased this coming season, both before and after Sochi.