LA Kings Doughty in it for the game or the paycheck?

Drew Doughty, the LA Kings' future hockey Hall of Famer, and, at the height of his career, one of the elite defensemen in the NHL, has unfortunately seen a decline in his performance over the past two seasons. So sub-standard that many fans were ready to give up on him heading into the 56-game, COVID-19-shortened, 2020-21 season.

The timing of his decline is quite interesting and maybe just coincidental. Doughty signed an enormous eight-year contract extension with the Kings in July of 2018 for an average annual value of $11 million. This was a big risk for the Kings because Doughty will be 37 when the contract expires and they were speculating that his performance would hold-up over the life, and near the end of the contract extension.

At the moment, Doughty isn't playing like a player who has the fifth-highest salary in the NHL, but he has high hopes that this season we'll see a resurgence in his career.

"A lot of people have me written off as not even a good player anymore," Doughty said. "And so all that becomes personal and all that drives me to be better this year, to make our team better."

What will Doughty have to do this season to prove his skeptics wrong?

The former Norris Trophy winner whose built up a strong resume throughout his career will have to continue having over a block and hit per game, and of course his plus//minus would preferably be on the positive side. Since 2018-19 was his worst performance offensively, if he is to experience a resurgence, Doughty will potentially post a P/GP between 0.73 (2017-18) and 0.54 (2018-19). Right now, he's tallied 11 points in 13 games and a plus/minus of -4. His takeaways and giveaways also need to be more in balance.

Doughty has tallied below 35 points in a season only twice in his career, which came in his rookie year and in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.

He know what it takes to win and he has proven he can be a formidable player. In both of the Kings 2012 and 2014 Stanley Cup championships, Doughty led the team in TOI and played an important role. He's been given the nod to participate in five NHL All-Star games, and while representing Team Canada at the Olympics, he won two gold medals (2010, 2014).

More will be revealed as the season continues to unfold and hopefully the battle-tested veteran can tap into the success he's experienced in prior years.


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