Happy Hump Day!
We’ve covered the goaltenders and the forwards, some via individual articles and others via group pieces earlier in the offseason. Now, we move onto the defensemen, beginning with the number one on the backend in Drew Doughty. Normally, a player with Doughty’s injuries this season would fall into a group evaluation, but Drew Doughty is Drew Doughty and the half-season that he did play was one of his best when forecasted out over 82 games. That deserves a longer look, which we have below!
NHL Statline – 39 games played, 7 goals, 24 assists, +4 rating, 30 penalty minutes
NHL Playoff Statline – N / A
Possession Metrics (Relative To Kings) – CF% –58.8% (+ 3.5%), SCF – 58.3% (+ 2.2%), HDCF – 55.1% (+ 0.2%)
Doughty’s season on many levels was outstanding in the portions that he played. In certain metrics, Doughty’s metrics mirrored those from the seasons he contended for the Norris Trophy as he ranked among league leaders while in action. He was every bit the number-one defenseman that the Kings know they have locked under contract and he produced at the level needed from a player in that role. Doughty also hit the 1000-game milestone this season, as he joined his long-time teammates Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown in reaching that career achievement.
“The actual thousandth game was a special night,” Todd McLellan said. “Tough place to play, on the road, long road trip, I thought it had a little bit of a motivating factor for our group, they wanted to play well for Drew on that night. We got the results we needed, the guys had fun with it, it was a good team builder, so there were a lot of positives that came out of that. For Drew himself, we’ve spoken a lot about his thousandth game and what it means to him as an individual, us as an organization and he’s getting better with time. That’s a real good thing for us and for him as an individual. ”
Trending Up – It was a shortened season for Doughty, so you can’t just compare the rates of 39 games played against the rates of 82 games played as apples to apples. But, if you were to make that comparison, you’d find that Doughty’s totals across the board were at the highest of his NHL career when looking at all situations. Total assists, shots and points on a per / 60 basis were the highest totals of his career, while goals and first assists were top-three in terms of his career rates. Individual scoring chances and high-danger chances were also at his highest career rate. From an offensive standpoint, you couldn’t have asked for much more from Doughty’s season, one that forecasted out to 65 points over the course of 82 games.
Looking at Doughty’s pairing with Mikey Anderson, the duo ranked second in the NHL in CF%, second in SCF% and sixth in the NHL in HDCF%, factoring in pairings with at least 500 minutes together at 5-on-5. No pairing was better at suppressing shot attempts, with the Doughty / Anderson duo leading the league in fewest shot attempts against on a per / 60 basis. All of this came with the pairing playing difficult minutes against top talent on opposing teams, with Doughty’s most frequent forwards opponents being top-line talents. Another solid season from the team’s top defensive pairing.
It also deserves repeating that Doughty reached the 1,000 game milestone this season, even though it was pushed back a bit due to his early-season injury. Doughty became the first player from the 2008 Draft Class to play in 1,000 games and did so while averaging more than 26 minutes player per game. Doughty missed just 38 total games on his journey to 1,000, a statement of both ability and durability. A great milestone for one of the organization’s most decorated players, with still some years and contributions yet to come.
Trending Down – If the most important ability is availability than, for the first time in his career, Doughty was unavailable more than he was available. Not exactly something he could control, but Doughty missed more than a month with a right-knee contusion early in the season and missed the final two months of the season, as well as the entirety of the postseason, with a tendon tear in his wrist , suffered in Boston in early-March. Doughty was certainly missed against Edmonton in the playoffs, though it was killing him more than anyone not to be out there. A clean health bill is step one heading into the fall.
If there’s one metric that stands out when it comes to Doughty this season in a trending down capacity it’s the number of high-danger goals the Kings allowed with him on the ice. At 1.76 on a per / 60 basis, it was the highest rate of Doughty’s career by a decently large margin, even though the Kings controlled more than 55 percent of high-danger chances with Doughty on the ice. An on-ice save percentage below .900 at 5-on-5 led to a career-low PDO of .972, something that points to an upward regression there when seeing how strong his other metrics were.
2022-23 Status – There is no doubt of Doughty’s role next season – number-one defenseman. Doughty is under contract for the next five seasons with a team-high cap hit of $ 11 million, so in that area it’s rinse and repeat.
Doughty’s performance this past season was at the level of an elite, number-one defenseman. The only thing off the rip that might derail his place at the start of the season could be injury, though all expectations internally have the veteran blueliner ready to go for training camp come September. Without knowing the makeup of those around him, it’s hard to know if Doughty will once again partner Mikey Anderson, or perhaps another player, but regardless of who lines up to his left, Doughty is a staple on the right side of that first pair, as well as a key part of special teams in all situations.