Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty will not retire from the NHL without a Norris Trophy on his resume, and after watching how last year's race for the award turned out, there is a strong chance that the 23-year-old could win several of them before he leaves the sport.
Ottawa Senators star Erik Karlsson won last year's Norris Trophy because of his incredible offensive numbers, which included a league-high 77 points (19 goals, 59 assists).
His victory was a bit of a surprise for many considering the fact that the other two finalists, Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators and Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins, had good offensive statistics too, but also played much better defensively.
Even though Doughty probably isn't going to come close to reaching Karlsson's points total from last season at any time in his career, his ability to dominate at both ends of the ice will make him a Norris Trophy finalist many more times throughout his career (he was nominated for the award in 2010).
Doughty showed in last year's NHL playoffs that he could be an offensive machine, and there's no reason why he cannot play at a similar level for an entire season.
The Kings offense is going to be much better this season now that Jeff Carter will be with the team from day one and several young players such as Dwight King and possibly a top prospect such as Tyler Toffoli will give Los Angeles stronger offensive depth than last year.
As Doughty continues to improve, and the Kings' offensive talent around him increases, it's possible that Doughty could reach the 60-point mark several times in the near future. His career high in points is 59, which he set during the 2009-10 season.
Since the Kings are a better team now than they were then, Doughty should be able to garner consideration for the Norris based on his offensive performance alone.
Not many defensemen in the NHL have the goal scoring ability that Doughty has, and while he's always been a good playmaker, there's still room for improvement in this area of his game.
Aside from his impressive offensive talents, Doughty is a very good defensive player, and compared to Karlsson, he's a much better player in this area of the game.
Even though a player's plus/minus rating doesn't fully show someone's ability to impact games defensively, Doughty was plus-11 during last year's Stanley Cup run, which was much better than the minus-two rating he had in the regular season.
Doughty has also become a quality penalty killer and played an important role in helping the Kings finish last season with the fourth-best penalty killing unit in the NHL. Doughty was on the ice for just 11 power-play goals scored against his team last season, which was better than his previous career best of 20 power-play goals against.
As Doughty's play at both ends of the ice keeps getting better, he will be in the conversation for the Norris Trophy many times in his career. He has all the skills that a coach could want in a defenseman.
There's plenty of competition for this award, especially from guys like Weber and Chara, and we have seen plenty of defensemen over the years who come out of nowhere and have a breakout season to force their name into the pool of qualified finalists.
However, the Norris Trophy is given to the league's best all-around defenseman, and at the moment, there are few defensemen with an all-around skill set better than Doughty's.
Playing a key role on a playoff contender will also help his case when it comes time for voters to decide who wins the award.
Doughty will win at least one Norris Trophy before he retires, and also join Rob Blake as the only Kings players to ever win this award.
Nicholas Goss is an NHL Lead Writer at Bleacher Report. He was also the organization's on-site reporter for the 2011 Stanley Cup Final in Boston. Follow him on Twitter.
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