The core of the Los Angeles Kings includes the likes of Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and of course, Jonathan Quick. There are also two young defensemen, Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov, who have the potential to be franchise cornerstones for the next 10, or even 15 years.
The two defensemen are only 23 years old. Doughty was born on December 8, 1989, while Voynov was born just over a month later, on January 15, 1990.
Doughty is set to enter the third year of an eight-year, $56 million contract, which is good through the 2018-19 season.
Voynov signed a six-year, $25 million contract earlier in the week, which carries an affordable cap hit of just $4.16 million (per TSN.ca). So, like Doughty, he is locked up through 2018-19.
Not only do both players have the talent and hockey smarts to play strong, sound defense, they also have the ability to play a significant role on offense. Having two players with this skill set makes GM Dean Lombardi’s job a little easier, as he can look to sign second- and third-line defensemen at an affordable price.
Doughty was born in London, Ontario and grew up a fan of Wayne Gretzky and the Kings. Now standing 6'1" and weighing 208 pounds, Doughty is living out his dream in Los Angeles.
He has a good mix of size and speed, which allows him to play physical, force turnovers and carry the puck through the neutral zone with ease. Doughty averages well over 130 hits per season and is never afraid to put himself in shooting lanes.
He already has five years of NHL experience under his belt and received a Norris Trophy nomination in 2010. Doughty was also selected to the 2010 Canadian Olympic team, much to the surprise of many in the hockey world, as he was just 20 years old at the time.
Meanwhile, Voynov is quickly becoming one of the best Russian defensemen in the NHL. He made huge improvements in his game from 2012 to 2013 and was rewarded with nearly four more minutes of ice time per game.
Although he may be a little undersized, the 6'0", 190-pound defenseman isn’t afraid to take the body. He racked up 83 hits this season, in addition to 48 blocked shots. But Voynov made an even bigger impact offensively, specifically in the playoffs.
Voynov set a Kings record for goals by a defenseman in a single playoff year with six. He also set the mark for the most game-winning goals with four. He and Jeff Carter finished with a team-best six goals and 13 points in 18 playoff games this year.
Even though the Kings have a one of the league’s best goaltenders and great depth at forward, it is Doughty and Voynov who could play a huge role in the team’s success going forward.
They will eat up anywhere from 25 to 30 minutes per game in ice time, help shut down some of the opposition's top lines and play a crucial role in the transition game. Not to mention the work they will do generating offense from the point, especially on the power play.
As for the rest of the Kings defense, only Robyn Regehr is signed through 2014-15, while Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene have one year remaining on their contracts. Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin and Keaton Ellerby are restricted free agents, making Rob Scuderi the lone unrestricted free agent this offseason.
Kings fans are certainly lucky to have Doughty and Voynov commanding the blue line for the foreseeable future.
Stats courtesy of NHL.com.
Contract information courtesy of CapGeek.com.