Advocating For The Devil: The Case For A 5-Year Drew Doughty Contract

“Jacob, talk me down.  I’m starting to get really nervous about Doughty.”

So Bobby said to me yesterday afternoon.  He often calls when he is feeling low, or confused, or in need of reassurance that his life isn’t the suffocating vacuum of lawerly scum that his subconscious knows to be true.  He calls a lot.

I obliged.

And I realized something.

Is Drew Doughty signing a 5 year deal really that terrible of an outcome?  There was a day, pre-Mike Milbury, when 5 years constituted a solid, very nearly long term contract.  Alas, those days are over.  The UFA age is no longer 31.  The age of 26-27 year-olds hitting UFA status are fully blown and fans of many teams who have lost the star players they painstakingly developed are just in need of being blown lest they blow the top of their craniums against the wall.  Jay Bouwmeester strung the Panthers along before bolting for Calgary.  Zdeno Chara left the Senators defense in ruins.  We watched our own Michael Cammalleri get kicked out of town before he could sniff his UFA years and then when they hit, leave Jerome Iginla and the Flames in his dust.  The Predators will likely lose Shea Weber.  The Wild already lost Marion Gaborik.  Their may be mass suicides in New Jersey next year if Parise leaves.  Ilya Kovalchuk gave everything to the Thrashers and as soon as he could, left his team without his services and ultimately a city without a team.  Now the league is convinced that in 5 years Steven Stamkos will be hunting down the biggest payday, allegiances to the Lightning be damned.

So we have some very real evidence to pause and be thoroughly concerned when considering the prospect of a 2016-2017 Los Angeles Kings team without a 26 year old Drew Doughty in his prime on the roster.

But why does this happen?  Are we all, at our cores, simply in want of the most money we can possibly get our grubby little hands on, whether it be for boons in lifestyle or bragging for status?  That can’t be the case.  Vinny Lecalvelier is still a Lightning.  Zetterberg and Datsyuk proudly don the red.  Getzlaf is still unfortunately a Duck, and Perry sadly still plays hockey.

What’s the difference?  Are these players just of different character?  I find that hard to believe as a rule to hold with any certainty.  The difference I see, is that bad teams lose their stars to UFA status and good teams retain them.

When you consider the possibility of Doughty signing a 5 year deal, you have to ask yourself, how good do you believe the Kings will be going into the 2016-2017 season?  How much will they have achieved?  Will there be a cup banner or two hanging from the rafters?  If there is not at least one new shiny banner in Staples Center, we have done much more wrong than fail to sign Drew Doughty to a contract longer than 5 years.  Taking on good faith for a minute that Doughty has more in the twinkle in his eyes than dollar signs, the amount of concern one places on Drew signing for 5 years bares a direct correlation to how much good faith you have in our team to succeed in the near-mid future.

Personally I refuse to base my opinions on the worst possible outcome.  I insist on believing the Kings will do great things in the next several years.  I trust that in 5 years we will be a better team than we are today.

If we now take this on good faith then both logically and emotionally we must quell our fears that a 26 year old Doughty would choose green over purple.  It is Doughty’s job to play fantastic hockey and to lead this team to places it has only sniffed at in the past.  Meanwhile, it the team’s job to make Los Angeles a place you don’t want to leave purely for more cash.  Forget Doughty all together and be optimistic that our team will do great things.  Suddenly we can start thinking about how the Canucks retained the Sedins.  We can consider ourselves the next Flames to clutch our own Iginla tight.  If a Cup is enough to keep Eric Staal in Carolina, then its good enough to keep Drew Doughty in Los Angeles.

Now, we do have to take some small consideration into Doughty’s motives for wanting a 5 year contract.  I see a few possibilities.  He could just be going with what his agent tells him is best.  He could be really excited to make the UFA payday as soon as possible.  Or, like most 21 year old kids, he may just not have any fucking idea what he will want or where he will want to be in his mid twenties.  When I look in the mirror, I find it to be a very difficult thing to condemn a 21 year old for not wanting to commit to something in his late twenties.  So I will assume this is the case with Doughty being hesitant to sign a deal longer than 5 years.  I’m OK with that line of reasoning.  This thinking fully allows for the Kings’ to convince him in those five years that this is definitely where he wants to play hockey for a long, long time.

If we hear in the next few weeks that Drew has signed a 5 year deal, catch yourself before your jaw flaps and compels hemming and hawing.  Think about how good the Kings are going to be this year.  Think about how much better they will be next year.  Think about the Cup.  That’s all that matters.  The rest will come.

Categories: L.A. Kings News

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16 replies

  1. Liar! Wait, did I really say that? Lol. Breach of trust! And Liar! I may have actually said that… :)

  2. Not worried about him leaving at the end of the deal, but cap-wise, I’d rather have him signed for longer.

  3. Kopitar is also an UFA in five years. Six or four could end up better for the Kings and Doughty.

    Don’t want an offseason where the Kings could lose Doughty and Kopitar.

    A Cup would make it okay though. :)

    • I was thinking the same thing. Kings need to sign Doughty for ‘2 or less years’ or 7 years or more’. 3-4 years means one side can file for arbitration and he becomes an UFA at the end of 5 years (depending on if the ruling is for 1-2 years) and Doughty and Kopi are both on the open market. 6 years is only one UFA year that will come at a premium.

    • To be honest, I wasn’t thinking about Kopi being due a new contract at the same time. I maintain my point though. Yes, it’s another reason why we would want Drew for more or less than 5 years, but it doesn’t change the fact that team success will go a long way towards locking up drew on a third contract. The same goes for Kopi.

  4. Hey J, could not agree more with you and your article matey, and do go easy on poor Zad and his rightfully so guilty conscience… The life of a lawyer is fraut with many things most of them unpleasent! But the money makes that go away quickly for most and some actually have no conscience or morals so it is easier for them than our boy Zad… :P

  5. minor correction to one comment:

    Doughty is eligible for arbitration after four seasons, which means, after this season. Which means, after this, he’s eligible.

  6. ” The difference I see, is that bad teams lose their stars to UFA status and good teams retain them.”

    This is the best concise definition of the CBA I’ve seen yet. (*cough* Bettman *spit*)

    Heaven knows, if this team brings a Stanley Cup to LA, Kopitar and Doughty won’t have to buy a drink for the rest of their lives in this town, much less re-upping a contract.

  7. Nice point about it being very much about the team. Another angle to this is that the team needs to be in a position such that DD’s next contract will be less important of an issue than it is now, unless he turns out to be very special indeed. Which we will know by then (I trust we will not be willing to utter the term “potential” without ill-will by the 4th year of his upcoming contract). We will also know by then if he is a straight-up mercenary, in which case he will be traded a la Camalleri. If he turns out to be less than very special, then the next contract will be a relative non-event, as we concern ourselves with other, more important contracts.

  8. Scott Neidermeyer left New Jersey and won a cup with (gulp!) the Quacks.

    Brian Rafalski did the same thing with Detroit

    The bottom line is… don’t get too attached to your players!

    If Doughty gets Kovalchuk money, well, how many playoff games has Ilya played in? Even after signing his new deal? Gabroik and Gomez and Drury went to the Rangers. How’d that work out for them? Remember when Jagr went to Washington, or in 2001 when Alexi Yashin signed a 10 year 87.5 million dollar year deal? A deal the Islanders will be paying off for another 3-4 years!!!!

    Chris Pronger hasn’t won a Norris since St Louis. Rob Blake won a cup with a great team but never won another Norris. Chelios won it twice with Chicago and zero times with Detroit (but did win a few cups).

    Doughty could sign a 10 year 150 million dollar contract with Toronto 6 years from now… and they STILL wont win a cup.

    • Looking back on Kovalschmuck in hindsight, I like our chances better with a Drew Doughty at Kovalchuck money, than a Kovalchuck at Kovalchuck money. DD’s far more valuable, and a higher impact player than Kovalputz. That being said, I don’t think the real issue is all money (which is where all the panic driven impatience is focused on), but years, and movement clauses to see who controls DD’s future.

      Everyones focused on paying, or not paying for potential, that they’ve forgotten all the other issues that have to be negotiated.

  9. I love your the writing style on this blog.

    Surly, you make good points about good teams being able to resign their UFAs. Assuming LA is good in five years, and Doughty doesn’t get sick of LA or anything, then the Kings should be able to re-sign him in most cases barring any abnormalities. That’s a good point and Kings fans shouldn’t worry too much over being able to retain him.

    The bigger issue I see is not ability to retain him, but money. Yes, you made the point he’d take less to stay if the Kings are good, and a little less is reasonable. My question is, what happens if he wins the next four Norris trophies? You want this guy tied up as long as possible at 6.5 million or whatever the lowest number you can sign him to when he’s RFA at 21, because if he starts dominating the league the next few seasons and then becomes a UFA at age 26, sure, he might take a discount, but that discount could well be the Sidney Crosby’s 8.7 million type of discount. That’s 2 million more than if you’d locked him up for two or three more years at 6.7.

    Doughty was not in his best shape last season, people have tried to argue that but it’s just fact, he had a down year, so his value is lowest. He’s still getting paid a lot because he’s getting paid for potential, and that won’t be the case at 26, but in every other way his value should be higher by 26. Essentially you want Doughty locked up for as long as possible at the cap hit he warranted when his value was lowest, not the cap he got on a new contract when he had higher value, and was UFA with more leverage.

    Also, on a totally different side of things, even if Doughty wants to stay at 26, and he hasn’t won four norris trophies, and the Kings are good, all those factors you mention are in the Kings favor, you still have to worry about the one major wildcard, and that’s Dean Lombardi. Look how hard a time he has negotiating with Don Meehan just in general, based on history, and then now included, and this is with Doughty just an RFA. Doughty has no other option than to sign with the Kings, and it’s still a hard negotiation. Imagine when all other 29 teams can call up Don Meehan. Doughty may want to sign with the Kings, but so did Kovalchuk. What happens when Lombardi is throwing jabs at the Meehan camp in the media, trying to play games like he always does, and in the meantime Ken Holland calls up Don Meehan at the perfect time, treats him real nice, and the Meehan goes to Doughty, “I know you want to sign with the Kings, but look at Lombardi playing games, he doesn’t even care enough about keeping you to not risking losing you by jabbing you in the media, and I know you think LA is the best option but that’s just because you haven’t been anywhere else. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and guess what, Ken Holland just called. They run an amazing ship over there, they treat you like gold, and I can get you this solid contract right here. And if you don’t want to go to Detroit, I can get you New York. I can get you whatever you want. You’re better than dealing with all this childish Lombardi crap. There is a reason no free agents want to come here. I can field other offers if you want.”

    So on top of the money part, I don’t trust Lombardi for one second negotiating with a veteran agent, who he has a bad history with, for the most coveted unrestricted free agent in years, against all other 29 GMs, including ones who are much better negotiators than him. Unless Drew Doughty tells his agent he refuses to go anywhere else under any circumstance, and he actually maintains that resolve towards LA over months of negotiating, through all the prods of “are you sure you don’ want to go elsewhere? I have a great offer,” unless Drew Doughty basically tells Meehan to fuck off and you do what I say, I’m not sure I like the Kings odds of retaining him if he ever becomes a UFA. I can’t see Dean Lombardi beating out the GM All-Stars in a negotiation with Don Meehan, even if he does have the advantage of Doughty wanting to stay. I am actually encouraged that the negotiations have dragged on this long because it means Dean isn’t just caving to a high salary demand, so hopefully the number will be fair, but in general Lomardi has been one of the worst negotiators in the NHL, and he can’t go head to head against everyone else. Kovalchuk was easy. He’s russian. GMs are racist by and large. He might be the most talented goalscorer in the league, and two teams were interested. Two. The Kings and NJ. So from Dean’s perspective it’s not really two, it’s just one. He had one competitor, and he lost to them. With Doughty as an RFA, he has none. If someone was going to make an offer sheet it would have happened by now. It’s just Dean and Meehan. Dean may be a shitty negotiator and Meehan may not like him, but he has no choice. But if Drew Doughty becomes UFA, that’s not just Kovalchuk, or Gaborik. Even Brad Richards, he had like five suitors, not 30. Doughty is guy is canadian, a prototypical 2way defenseman, and unlike Brad Richards who won’t be worth it 10 years from now because he’s already 30, Doughty will be the pitch perfect age to sign a long-term deal. Richards was also coming off concussions, and even at his best he’s a point per game center, not a generational one. With Doughty, it won’t be five suitors, it will be every single GM who thinks they have even a chance to sign him making an offer. You really like Dean’s chances there? Of course you can always hope he’d re-sign him before hitting July 1, which changes things somewhat, but even just the leverage that Doughty can become unrestricted if he waits until July 1st would probably cause more problems than it even should just because it’s Dean Lombardi. This is the one major disadvantage of having him as GM and I think it could be really problematic here if it’s a five year deal.

  10. Some random tweets with nothing to back them up:

    Drew #Doughty will be signed by the end of the weekend. Hearing a contract of about 6.5M per year. #Kings #NHL

    Report: Los Angeles Kings and Drew Doughty close to reaching a deal that would pay him $6.8 Million a year over 7 years. #NHL #LAKings

  11. Some of the opinions above about DL don’t seem accurate or fair. He is not an inept negotiator, and his mistakes have been relatively few. Remember that in the cap era, paying some players too much can hurt the rest of the team, especially if those dollars do not produce a winning team. It remains to be seen if Drew can lead the team to post season success.

    A lot of the Doughty situation has to do with the relationship with his agent. Drew does not seem to have the desire (perhaps maturity) to participate in the negotiations. He delegates the whole process to his agent. In my mind, this is a chicken shit posture, and reflects on him. That being said, it is his choice how to run this.

    One thing a player has to decide is how much more he wants to win than he wants money. Some players are lucky and get both (e.g. Chara). Other players place more of a premium on money (Hard not to characterize Camelleri this way). Drew’s greedy agent may not care at all about winning, just the almighty buck. I don’t know.

    A lot can happen in 5 years. We may feel a lot differently about Drew then.


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