In Defense Of Drew Doughty

Drew Doughty has spent three seasons with the LA Kings. He made the team out of camp as a rookie, had a solid inaugural season and appeared poised to become one of the best young defensemen in the league. In season two, promise intersected with production and Doughty exceeded every level of expectation by playing like an experienced and perennial All-Star as evidenced by his Norris Trophy nomination, one that, if he had won, would not have surprised anyone. He manned the blue line for his country, earned Gold and was a significant factor on both ends of the ice for team Canada, a team of super stars. From Mike Babcock, team Canada’s coach:

“I think Doughty’s been one of the best defensemen in the National Hockey League this year. I think he’s that good. I’m so impressed with how he plays offensively and defensively. Is he going to be star-struck at this tournament? I don’t believe that for a second.”

The Olympic stage showcased Drew’s talents. The playoffs affirmed it further with 3 goals and 4 assists for 7 points in 7 playoff games – a point per game. He performed like an elite defenseman. Mike Babcock was right – Drew Doughty was one of the best defensemen in the NHL.

Doughty came into camp without being in top shape and then suffered an injury that affected his numbers. In the second half, he returned to form and was again one of the best players on the ice each and every night. He put up respectable numbers, 11 goals, 29 assists and 40 points with a +13. By comparison, the other star defenseman, Jack Johnson, had 5 goals, 37 assists and 42 points but with a -21. Willie Mitchell and Rob Scuderi were a + 4 and + 1, respectively, and those are the team’s defensive defensemen. Matt Greene was a + 3.

So, who is the best defenseman the Kings have on this team that consistently brings a balance of offensive numbers and defensive prowess? Drew Doughty.

Here we are. Summer of 2011. He wants to be paid like one of  the best NHL defensemen in the league. He wants to be paid commensurate with his elite talent. What is that number? That depends on the length of the contract.

Do the Kings expect to cut into his free agent years? His prime? Where on the open market he will receive in the future, taking into consideration escalating salaries, a rising cap and Drew continuing to establish himself as a defenseman in the mold of a Niedermayer, Lidstrom and other household names, numbers well into the $7 and potentially $8 million dollar per season range? If so, then the Kings should be committed to paying close to those dollars now. If the team is not, then there is no reason for Drew to sacrifice those prime years, take significantly less dollars than he will earn at that time, solely on the boot-strapped premise of “necessity” to win the Cup. A $1 million dollar cap hit in any given season will not keep the Kings from being a contender and raising the Cup. If it does, then Doughty’s contract is the least of this team’s problems. The different between $6.8 million per season and $7.5 million per season is even less than that – a whopping $700,000.00. That’s a little more than what we pay Davis Drewiske to not play.

If the Kings aren’t willing to pay that amount for the prime years, then let’s sign a 5 year contract. Once again, why isn’t $7.5 million dollars reasonable for one of the top defensemen in the league? Are we really supposed to believe, using the same analogy, that $700,000.00 per season is going to keep this team from being a contender? Is 5 years too short? I certainly hope the Kings intend to win the Cup in the next 5 years and, if they will be a contender year in and year out, why the insecurity of Drew walking when he reaches UFA status? Are we back to money again? Then, pay him to keep him longer and the problem is solved. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t expect Drew to commit long-term, take away his best years where he will earn the most amount of money but, today, accept a big discount for it.

Now, if the Kings don’t believe Drew Doughty is “worth” that kind of money, then there is simply a difference of opinion on the value of this player to this team and that means the Kings don’t place top value on a defenseman that has proven himself as being the best the Kings have on each end of the ice as of today and is poised to become the most coveted young blue liner in the NHL. I don’t believe that for a second. If the Kings didn’t place such a value on Drew, they wouldn’t offer him a 9 year contract. You don’t offer nearly a decade if you don’t believe you have something very special.

You can argue that Dean Lombardi will set a precedent with other players if he pays Drew too much. But I ask you, what elite level forward, defenseman or goaltender do the Kings have that is one of the best in the NHL today and has a future as bright as Doughty? In other words, who is the comparable? Jonathan Quick? Is he one of the top goalies in the league? No. Jonathan Bernier? He hasn’t even earned a number 1 role with this team. As for defensemen, Jack Johnson is already under contract and nobody else even comes close to Drew’s status. At forward, our star centers are already under contract and none of our wings are generational talents. Sounds like a case of fearing fear and not a hypothesis based on common sense or the current state of the franchise. Now, if the Kings do develop a 40+ goal scoring top 6 forward or a defenseman of Drew Doughty’s caliber, why shouldn’t he be paid top dollar? Nobody is there yet…except Drew Doughty.


Why did I write this article? Today, I challenged myself to see Drew Doughty and Don Meehan’s perspective and this was the result. Did this give you that perspective? Did it make a dent?

Categories: L.A. Kings News

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43 replies

  1. This may all depend on the other stuff involved in the contract and may not have too much to do with the money. What if he likes the money but want a NTC, or a different length of contract. I do not know what to believe anymore.

    7 mil is plenty of money for an elite D man but you know how people change their minds and maybe the Kings want the longer contract for security purposes. Will we ever know the real story, I am leaning towards a big NO!

  2. Excellent article. DD is a generational talent and that isn’t just some phrase or saying to me, I consider DD to be as important of a player as Sydney Crosby in his own way and am certain that time will prove me right.

    I understand the politics of of contract negotiations but believe that DD is the single best dman at his age and will continue to prove himself to be one of the top players in the league for at least the next decade and as such should become the face of our franchise (barring injuries).

    To quote John Malkovich in the movie Rounders “PAY THE MYAN” “PAY HYIM”.

  3. I love the guy he’s my favourite player but I think he can be replaced by Voynov and by using the extra cap space to sign someone else…it wouldn’t be ideal but it’s certainly doable and he has to watch that

  4. I couldn’t agree with you more. There are some counter-arguements that frustrate me like “no way should he make more than Kopi”. Assuming that Kopi was working out a deal today though, it would probably be more than 6.8 mill. Another frustrating one is “he hasn’t proven anything yet” but what’s left to prove on a 9 year deal? Even if he does “prove it” the price is set for 9 years. “he played like crap last year, and now he wants a raise”. That one frustrates me more than any, because I try bringing corsi/rel corsi up, and it gets ignored. 10 defenseman in the entire NHL had GVT #’rs in double digits, and DD was one of them, and yet some insist he sucked last season.

    I would love to get him signed, and appreciate DL trying to get a good deal, but there comes a time when you just have to get it done. Jack Johnson got a 2 year deal after his ELC ended. Give that to DD and lets play some hockey.

    • I agree. Doughty’s stats were down from the prior season, but, he still had great stats. And some act like last season was a flop for him. It wasn’t. Sure he struggled a bit early, and had an injury for a while. His second half was very good. I say pay him now (and long term if possible). $6.7m@5yrs, $7.2m@7yrs, or $7.5m@9yrs.

      • Except cap hit goes down with length not up. That is the whole point of circumvention…I mean CBA approved contracts

        • I disagree with this unless you are getting a 12+ year deal like Richards. The more UFA years that Doughty gives up, the higher the cap hit.

          Of course, Doughty wants big money and 5 years, just like Stamkos.

          Doughty, Bogosian, Schenn, Turris, Bailey and Marchand are all unsigned the weekend before camps open up.

        • Not necessarily.

          Circumvention only works when you add artificially low years. Most of them have long tails when a player is past his prime, or so old he may retire. Those players are 26-30something when they sign.

          So those prime years you mention…what, would they take 3 or 4 million for them or something? I can’t see that unless DL likes dramatic frontloading all of a sudden. Adding 1m years, as so many recent contracts do, looks impossible.

          The first 5 u.f.a. years will be expensive without much to offset them unless you can sign him for 20 years or so.

  5. F*ck em…..

  6. This article brings back memories, and highlights, indirectly, an issue of concern – will he fuck us then roll over and fall asleep and leave us there sitting in the dark listening to his snoring? This question, not the talent issue, seems to underlie resistance to DD’s demands. Because the kind of money he seeks is the kind of money that goes to brilliant talent AND champion determination.

    Kopitar is his only peer on the team where it comes to individual brilliance. By which I mean, in Kopitar’s case, the ability to make a play, by himself, out of nothing – sometimes incorporating others, sometimes not. And only individually brilliant defensemen, like Doughty, can take away the space of offensive players like Kopitar and choke their creativity. Like Bolland does. Without Kopitar, the Kings have only a system offense with little or no improvisational talent. Which can be stopped by a disciplined system defense. Without DD, the Kings are exploitable by exceptional offensive talents. Scuderi is very gifted, but his positional/anticipating style is not mobile, and is best used behind a player like DD (not instead of). So, pay him Kopitar money, and hope for the best. If he refuses, well, then let him sit out.

  7. And, Kopitar’s contract looks good now because we know the answer to the character issue. It is no longer a risk, as it was at the time of signing, and so can even be argued to be a little low at this time. But, that would be if he were to be signed today – knowing what we already know, but did not at the time of signing. In other words, free of a risk that we must consider with the DD signing.

  8. It’s clear that the Kings have to get a deal done with Drew and the sticking points are working out the correct length and the money. If 9 years are too long for Drew, who says he grew up wanting to be a King, then shorten the deal and up the money. I think Lombardi has to realize that if he doesn’t pay Drew around 7 million a year, then someone else will gladly do it. Make it for 4 or 5 years and pay the money, but get the damn thing done already.

  9. At this point 5 years is the longest term he will sign for. If he won’t commit to a longer term, well then, the money should not be as good. Drew (or that asshole agent) can’t have it both ways either…

  10. The thing with Kopi’s deal though is that as it has been said, if he were negotiating today based on his first three years in the league he too would be asking for more than $6.8 per for the length of his deal.

    I am starting to believe more and more that this is an issue of Nwpt insisting on a 5 yr deal and that only and we are still trying to buy some UFA years. If this is the case then yes, I will lost a little faith in DD and continue to know what I know about DM, MG and the rest of the guys at Nwpt and hope that they all equally fail at everything that they do.

    IF they are only willing to take a 5 yr deal. If DD doesn’t step in and fire these nish headed gulvin smellin farwads soon he will stand a chance of losing all respect. By some.

    • Gentlemen and ladies, this site may be the only place in the world you will get to read the words, “nish headed gulvin smellin farwads.” That is gold right there.

    • He can’t fire Meehan if he told them to get him a 5 year all along. They got an offer for Kopi money, and Meehan didn’t raise the price. DL revised his offer on amounts for years, and Meehan didn’t raise the price. They’re talking now, because Meehan wanted to wait till time was running out to get whatever he’s looking for.

      If it turns out to be money, nobodies gonna be more pissed than me, but DD said he’s been reading what people are saying (and everybody was saying he’s greedy), and he said “none of it’s true, not even close”. If DL had offered him a 5 year like Stamkos got, this would of ended a month ago., because if it was money, meehan could of raised the price from the start.

      A lot of exceptional players get 5 year deals when they finnish their ELC, and DL should know this. That’s why Parise had to have an extension last year, and New jersey could still lose him next summer. People want to trade DD for a guy who himself asked for a 5 year deal when he was DD’s age. Why does nobody see the hypocrisy here?

      • Kopi signed for 7 right? So did Jack. 7 is the magic number for many reasons. Dean wants 7. Drew wants 5. Either one blinks, neither blinks or 6 becomes it

        • Jack signed for 2 first, then 7. You could say that the Kings got their 9 out of Jack eventually. No reason the Kings couldn’t do that with DD.

          2 years allows for a season of breathing room, and a fresh start next summer. Difference is that DD gets another year to prove his case, and a whole season afterwards to work out a long term deal.

          That would be a best case scenario for both sides. Any other way and someones giving in somewhere.

  11. 7.5 million dollars isn’t necessarily out of line for one of the top defensemen in the league. problem is, Doughty isn’t one of those defensemen. yet.
    in fact, one could make a pretty solid argument for him being the worst defenseman on the Kings last season.

  12. I’ve always taken issue to people saying the concussion slowed him down or that he was much better in the second half than he was in the first half. Here are some numbers:

    Some fun Drew Doughty numbers from this past season:

    First 38 Games
    3 goals
    21 assists
    24 points
    30 PIM
    80 hits
    59 blocks

    Final 38 games
    8 goals
    8 assists
    16 points
    +/- of 0
    38 PIM
    57 hits
    42 blocks

    The only two categories he increased his output were goals and PIM. Everything else went down.

    He seemed to do just fine after returning from his concussion, too:

    5 games leading up to the concussion
    0 goals
    1 assist
    1 point
    6 PIM
    17 hits
    7 blocks

    7 games after the concussion
    1 goal
    5 assists
    6 points
    8 PIM
    14 hits
    15 blocks

    Obviously stats don’t tell the whole story, but they do give a pretty solid idea as to what’s going on out there.

  13. Really like this article. In my opinion, Lombardi has been too emotional in this negotiation and all the leaked contract rumours have been to Doughty’s detriment. Just pay up, since what we can see in the crystal ball is that any large contract starts to look like chump change in a few seasons as the cap floor rises. As you state, if you’re willing to sign a guy for nine years, you must believe in his talent. Why poison the relationship by taking so long to make a deal and souring the fan base on the player? Terry Murray decreed that Doughty’s focus in the off-season was vital, but the GM has instead let the contract issue fester. If you need a justification for the dollars, the Stamkos contract is out there.
    As for all the fans who want to trade him, there is not a team in the NHL who wouldn’t want Doughty. Stop taking it personally, it’s just business.

    • And it is all Dean’s fault? Never mind that Drew sat on contract offers for weeks at a time?

      Meehan had no intention of negotiating until September. Just like with Schenn, Marchand and Bailey this year. And Bobby Ryan last year.

      All last summer Ryan wanted a 3 year deal. Ducks wanted a five year deal. Ryan signs for 5 years two days before the start of camp. Ryan and Meehan could have signed that deal on July 1st. They only waited becaus they thought a hold out threat would force the Ducks to compromise.

      • I agree with you that Meehan had no intention of negotiating till September (and I blew a lot of hot air trying to explain the wait to a lot of pissed off Kingsfans), but DD was not the one sitting on contract offers, Meehan was. DD has said from the start that he is not involved with the negotiation process. So, Yes! DL is very much at fault here. I would say just as much as Meehan, because He is just as stubborn, and just as determined to get his way as Meehan is.

        The only reason I would cut DL some slack for it, is because he’s doing it to cut down on the caphit, where Meehan is doing it to raise it as far as he can. DD is not necessarily at fault for any of it, because he’s hired a guy to make those decisions for him (just like 90% of the players out there do when their contracts are up).

        The Ducks actually wanted a long term deal from Ryan (well over 5 years), and Ryan was accused of being a hold out, and being greedy by Ducksfans (but not near to the extent that Kingsfans have taken it with DD). Rumor had it that he did want 3, but in the end both sides settled on 5. I know this because If you go on the Ducks OC Register freedom blog and look up last summer, you’ll see me there teasing Ducksfans daily. Just like DD, Ryan sat back and let his agent handle it, and was very relieved to finally have it done (just as I suspect DD will be).

        • I don’t remember the Ducks wanting a deal longer than 5 years. Do you have a link for that?

          Have the Ducks ever signed anyone for longer than 5 years?

          If true, Dean wants 9 and Drew wants 5. Then they will settle for 7 years, which is probably what Deans wants anyways. :)

          • That like the 3 year was, it was just rumor also. Like the DD negotiations, it wasn’t faught out in the media. This negotiation has more leaked from Deans side than anywhere else though, because Meehans side has leaked nothing to date. Any source reporting anything is a source close to the Kings organization somehow, but Meehan has no friends.

  14. Yes, that risk is always inherent in signing a less than fully proven young player who projects to improve greatly and expects to be paid for the level he is projected (by whomever) to attain. Same with projecting when the skills of a superior player in his prime will begin to decline.

    At this time that risk looks greater for DD than, for example Weber, as Weber played more to expectation this past season than DD. In Drew’s favor, it is DL (and all his men’s) job to
    decide on what the horse is worth and “pony up” accordingly. That risk with DD could also be said to be comparable to that same risk with Kopitar at his signing – not terrible, but worth something. All risk should be valued by the parties.

    My conclusion is that, maybe a few dollars more than Kopitar (for an otherwise similar deal) makes sense if it will close the deal. Call the difference a signing bonus or a market conditions adjustment. We can debate how much, but lets just say it does cover what AK would get today, and maybe even a few extra bucks.

    But if DD wants Stamkos money/term plus the Kings giving up all trading rights during the term (Kings can’t trade him in anticipation of the coming UFA bidding contest as they did Camalleri, thereby shedding the risk of receiving nothing), then they have five years plus nothing but the opportunity to bid in five years on a UFA who could have been playing anywhere . It would be effectively the same as signing an established UFA superstar to a five year deal with a no-trade clause now, and that really isn’t the situation. It asks the Kings to give up rights that they have and that DL values very highly. The game from Meehan’s point of view is to make his client effectively a free agent as much and as soon as possible and be paid accordingly. He must negotiate with the Kings, but he can try for a near or effectively-UFA contract. The Kings would want to open extension negotiations after, say, the third year, with the option of trading DD if those do not progress. The more I think about this, the more I believe that this is about the next contract, and that both DL and Meehan keenly value the rights.

    Why do Meehan/DD value the rights so much? First, to become as much UFA-like as possible as soon as possible. Second, ending his term with the Kings will give him much more momentum into UFA years than doing so with Columbus. He and the Kings stand to look good over the next few years. Margin note to DL: that is value the Kings are bringing DD, and should be effectively offset in the contract. Valuing these rights takes us way beyond “comping” term and money, and into pretty esoteric and abstract valuation debates which are very hard to resolve by argument. So, they will likely be resolved arbitrarily, by negotiation. Unless there is some mutual compromise, we have nonresolution and holdout. Then ” holdout value” (mutual injury) becomes an effective term.

    This is more train-of-thought than argument, but I’m a bit (more) thick at this hour than late at night, when I usually read everyone’s posts.

    • Where were you all summer? LOL

      1 Small point. The Kings can only open talks on a new contract during the final year of an existing contract (that is why I ask for a bare minimum of a 2yr deal, with talks re-opening up next summer), so they couldn’t open negotiations on the 3rd year with an option to trade coming on the 4rth year if the deal is 5 or more years. Other than that, very well done.

  15. I’m not even mad at Drew. He’s doing what he feels is best for himself. More power to him for his abilities and trying to maximize his earnings. Who knows, if I had his abilities, I may also do the same thing.

    I’m just viewing this negotiation as a Kings’ fan. I want what is best for the team, not Drew. I will cheer for the Kings no matter how much Drew is making. I would never boo a player for trying to maximize his earnings. Same as I don’t cheer any louder for the players that put the team ahead of their earnings. I have more respect for those players and I believe they help Dean build a better team, but their earnings don’t change how I feel about their play.

  16. I can’t quite remember – I feel pretty certain that only part of the summer was spent in alcoholic stupor (my paychecks are still clearing, I believe), and the heat wave (here) is over, so I have no excuse.

    Your point is more Medium. Please amend to “4th yr.”

  17. Not a dent, not even a scratch. The premise that he has proven himself already is false.

  18. If LA does not think the Doughty is worth 7M then trade him and see how many teams make offers. As a habs fan I would offer Markov and a first round pick plus a prospect to have him on my team. He is 21 has got lots of time to improve and he and PK Suban would make a hell of a pair on the PP as well as anchoring our defence for many years. I am sure that LA would not take my trade offer but it they did barring injury, I know who would be the winner in the long run.


  1. Kings Camp Nears, and Still No Drew Doughty « Professional Sports in Los Angeles

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