The Los Angeles Kings will head into the 2013-14 season looking to capture their second Stanley Cup title in the last three seasons, and certainly have the team, at least on paper, to pull it off. Where their success may begin in the upcoming year is with star defenseman Drew Doughty.
Though he’s done so somewhat quietly, playing in a West Coast market with a team that plays its home games when much of the East Coast has already gone to sleep, Doughty has become an elite defenseman. He was a Norris Trophy finalist in 2009-10, fell off a bit after signing a big contract, and has since recovered and become a top tier blue liner.
Which could mean some hardware for the young defenseman when it’s all said and done this year. Despite being just 23 years of age, Doughty is the total package on the Los Angeles blue line. He’s an asset for the Kings at both ends and in all situations.
With the departure of Rob Scuderi, the play of Doughty becomes that much more important. We know he can put up points from the blue line, as well as any defenseman in the league. He finished with 22 during the shortened season, one of the higher totals for a defenseman.
His game goes beyond that, though. He’s a guy that can move the puck extremely well and has a big shot, but at the same time, he plays the physical game that makes him a tough matchup in his own zone against opposing forwards. He’s an asset on the power play, and with Scuderi gone, he’ll be required to be a top penalty killer as well.
There isn’t a situation that the Kings don’t feel comfortable throwing Doughty out on the ice for. He’s a 25+ minutes a night, all situations guy. We’ve seen him improve in several areas as his young career has worn on, and when you consider how many different ways he’s able to make an impact, there’s little doubt that he should garner some serious consideration for the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman when it’s all over this year.