I am wearing my Drew Doughty shirt to work today in an implicit appeal to the hockey gods that our boy will be signed soon, be it to the 7 year, $52 million deal, the 9 year deal or any new deal that may crop up.
For the time being, allow me to muse on a few points.
These musings are based off the offer we reported last night, as well as a tidbit of info that was passed along. We have more word (further confirming an earlier report) that Drew’s offseason training is going very well. We are confident that come training camp we will see a Doughty whose conditioning is greatly improved over his first three as a King. Take yourself back to 2008 and recall Anze Kopitar tiring towards the end of games and losing some strength on the puck as the season progressed. Now weigh that against Kopitar in 2010, the guy who can give you the same effort in the last 30 seconds of game 82 as he did in the first 30 of game 1. That’s the kind of improvement we are talking about.
So with that in mind, let us consider the possibility of Doughty being a King for the next 7 years at a $7.42 million cap hit. While my first reaction to this number was nothing short of being hit with a concussive cannon blast, the PTSD has since worn off and I find myself synthesizing this cap hit into something more palatable. Far from the delicious meal I had on Saturday night for my anniversary (Best rack of lamb, hands down. Still salivating), I can equate this deal to a bag of instant grits. No fancy flavors, just a hearty meal that will keep me going until my body demands another, even if I might feel a touch bloated when I first get up from the table and meander about the house.
I’m no cap expert. I always had an affinity for math, which only lent itself to my innate self-deprecating ‘jewness’ since its an awkward thing to be good at something you have no real love for doing. You want a spreadsheet, you know where to go, but I will say that at $7.42, that would leave the Kings with about $2.5 million in cap space for the season. That’s enough to make a solid vet addition at the deadline assuming no salary goes the other way. Next year that Kings have ~$13 million in space coming off the books and will need to replace or resign Stoll, Penner, Mitchell and Parse (Fraser is counted in there as salary coming off the books, but I wouldn’t really call him someone who needs to be replaced). So my cursory look at capgeek tells me that the Kings can easily live with a 7.42 cap hit for Doughty, but if they want to pursue another big ticket free agent next summer (Semin anyone?) they will have to either hope the cap goes up several million or that they can replace one of Stoll/Penner on the cheap. No will ever accuse Dean Lombardi and Jeff Solomon of being frivolous cap spenders. This is one of those cases where I will put my ego aside and courteously bow to the acumen of the experts. If $7.42 million is good enough for Lombardi to work with, its certainly good enough for me put aside my griping nature.
As to the 7 year term, I have no qualms. In my world filled with dragons and unicorns and pictures of Robitaille, Dionne, Hrudey and Palffy skating around in Kings jerseys holding the Stanley Cup high above their heads, Doughty would sign the 9 year deal. What I did not want was a Stamkos term. Buying only one year of UFA Doughty is not acceptable for a guy who claimed before being drafted that his favorite team his whole life has been the LA Kings. For a guy willing to make his allegiances known by the sheets on his teenage bed, I expect 10+ years in a Kings’ uniform. 7 years does just that. If the Kings can’t give Doughty cause to resign again by that point, then I won’t blame him and we wouldn’t deserve him. However I still hold out hope that dragons are real and hiding somewhere far off in a cave and insist on believing that between now and the end of a 7 year Doughty deal, between one and three cup banners will hang proudly from the Staples Center rafters.
If Drew Doughty signs this deal, so be it. If our worst fears were to be realized and Doughty petered out or becomes merely good and not great, more Matthieu Schneider than Ray Borque, then we have problems beyond a high cap hit. Further to that point, if the Chicago Blackhawks can win a cup with a $7.14 million Brian Campbell scampering around the ice and then dump his ginger ass and absurd salary in the league’s basement, then the Kings can certainly deal with Drew at 7.42 considering that I would take 2010-11 Doughty on my team over 2000-anything Campbell.
One last point regarding a no-movement/no-trade clause, of which we have nothing new to report. I will not be happy if a deal that gives Doughty the high end of what he is asking for (they couldn’t have asked for 8+ per year…. could they?), then I expect any NTC/NMC to be either non-existent or highly modified. Paying Doughty a boatload of cash/cap hit AND giving him total control of his destiny in 4 years seems too weighted towards one side. I can’t imagine Lombardi coming out of this without any of his concessions granted and if the money is already on the table I can only hope the NTC/NMC is off it. We shall see.
Ultimately this all comes down to faith. How much faith do you have in Drew Doughty? I have the utmost faith that we have the league’s post-Lidstrom era best defenseman on our hands. In any contract there is an element of faith involved. When you are signing a 21 Doughty or Kopitar to a long term contract, you are showing faith that the player will improve. When you are sign a 30 year old veteran UFA you are showing faith that the player won’t decline.
So the question is not do you believe Doughty is worth $52 million over 7 years, but rather, how good do you believe Doughty will be for the duration of those 7 years?
Finally, I forgot to add something. I want to share a comment made on the last article by our reader and long time HF Boards forum buddy, Sydor25, who made an excellent point. I put it here for those of you who for some strange reason avoid the entertaining discussions in our comment sections. Let this be a lesson to you, join in! Anywho, this is Sydor’s thoughts on signing Doughty to a $7.42 cap hit.
Getting him locked up for 7 years must be worth the risk to Dean and the Kings.
Having Kopitar, Richards, Johnson and Doughty all locked up long term and 2 #1 goalies fighting it out for their next long-term deal is a good problem to have for Dean and the Kings’ capologist. $7.43 million per is a shit load of money for a 21 year old defenseman. Dean is going all in for the next 2 years to win a cup in LA. $7.43 isn’t that crippling for a #1 defenseman when your #2 defenseman is making $4.357.
The Sharks are going to have $12.43 million paid to their top 2 defensemen starting in 2012-13. The Kings will have $11.7 million paid to their top 2 defensemen.
I would rather have Doughty and Johnson than Boyle and Burns.
Let’s take that a point further and use some other top teams as comparables. Duncar Keith and Brent Seabrook combine for $11.34 million in cap hit. The Red Wings spend $9.95 on their top two in Stuart and Lidstrom. It was more than that (closer to ~11.5) before Rafalski left, a guy they haven’t really replaced. The Penguins spend $9 on Martin and Michalek, but they also outspend the Kings by almost $5 million on their top two centers. The Flyers spend $11.2 on Pronger and Timonen. Finally, Vancouver is a team who only spends $9.1 on Bieksa and Hamhuis, but they spend much more on Ballard than we do on Scuderi or Mitchell. They also don’t have anyone as good as Drew Doughty. Sydor’s analysis gives us a very nice perspective.