For most defenseman, to have a season where they put up 11 goals, 29 assists and a +13 rating in 76 games would be a good year. Not quite a banner year but a good one, nonetheless. For Drew Doughty, however, especially coming off a phenomenal sophore campaign where he was nominated for the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman, 2010-11 was anything but memorable.
On the surface, Doughty’s totals were decent. In his rookie season, he scored just 27 points in 81 games. As a 19-year-old, though, Doughty opened the eyes of those around the league, who were forced to take notice at this new kid who was drafted second overall at the 2008 draft. With lofty expectations, Doughty impressed nearly everyone and fell just short of earning a Calder nomination as the league’s top rookie.
His sophomore season was much better as he collected 59 points in 82 games while helping the Kings clinch their first playoff berth in eight seasons. This season, though, Doughty went a step backwards. Although his numbers dropped off a bit, the London, Ontario, native’s defensive game was what dropped off.
There were many times (too many times, in fact) when Doughty was careless with the puck making a number of costly turnovers. What was even more bothersome was the fact that this was a trend that spread out over the entire season. If this was just a phase that lasted a week or two, I suppose I could be more forgiving. However, Doughty just didn’t seem to learn his mistakes.
Doughty’s Giveaway/Takeaways ratios for the last two seasons are somewhat misleading. In 2009-10, his ratio was 73/20 while this past season, it was 77/22, which is a very minimal difference on paper, although it did seem more drastic during gameplay. Either way, Drew Doughty needs to have a better season next year. There’s no question about that.
I don’t know what Doughty’s mindset was this season but most games, it was clear that something was off. Whether it was fatigue, a case of under-achievement or just losing focus altogether, I’m not sure.
Becoming a restricted free agent this summer, it will be interesting to see how the negotiations of a new contract will unfold. One thing’s for sure, though. If Doughty is a Los Angeles King next season, which, in all likelihood, he will be, there’s really nowhere to go but up for #8.