Drew Doughty: Calder Contender?

Mark HContributor IFebruary 27, 2009

Unfortunately for Drew Doughty, defenseman usually aren't among the leaders when it comes time to consider who the NHL's rookie of the year will be. 

However, this year should be different.

Doughty has already drawn comparisons with Ray Bourque in his style of play.  Doughty is currently the number-one defensemen on a surprising Kings team that find themselves knee-deep in the Western Conference playoff race. 

Expected to be contending for the number-one pick in the draft this year, the Kings' defense-first philosophy coming into the season has shaken up how teams look at the Kings.

There were a fair share of people that suggested Drew Doughty might not belong on the Kings this season as an 18-year-old rookie.  Yet Doughty fought his way through training camp after training camp and found his way onto the Kings' opening night roster.

Only two games later, arguably the Kings' best defenseman, Jack Johnson, went down with an injury that would force him to miss nearly half the season.  The Kings needed someone to step into Johnson's top line role - Drew Doughty grabbed hold and never looked back. 

The Kings this season are tied for ninth-best in goals against, as opposed to third-worst in the NHL last season.  The Kings have allowed the fewest shots on goal this season, as opposed to third-worst last season.  Quite an improvement.

Anyone who has seen the Los Angeles Kings this season can see not only how special of a player Drew Doughty is going to be, but how special he already is.  Every night he is facing the opposing team's best players—the Crosbys, Ovechkins, Iginlas, and the Kovalchuks—and he is shutting them down.

Doughty is already a premier puck-moving defenseman.  He is downright dangerous when moving the puck end-to-end and has a wicked shot to back it up.  He sees power-play and penalty-kill minutes every night.  He carries the Kings' defense.

Oh, one more thing.  He leads all Kings in time-on-ice.  He leads all rookies in time-on-ice—by more than a minute and a half per game.  He is in the top 25 in the entire league in time-on-ice. 

This might not be your year, Drew.  Only three defensemen in the past 20 years have won the Calder Memorial Trophy.  If Steve Mason can lead the Blue Jackets into the playoffs, then he is a very worthy candidate as well. 

The bottom line is, Drew Doughty deserves some attention, too.  No rookie means more to their team than he does to the Kings.