NHL Free Agency: Why Drew Doughty Is Worth a Blockbuster Offer Sheet

John PhenAnalyst IIIMarch 21, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 01:  Drew Doughty #8 of the Los Angeles Kings reacts after scoring against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the first period at the Staples Center on December 1, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Drew Doughty is one of the NHL’s brightest young blueline talents and has all the tools to become one of the league's very best.

With end-to-end skill and fluid playmaking ability, his offensive skills bring a dynamic component to the Kings' blueline.

A gold-medal winner with Team Canada in the 2010 Olympics, Doughty is the second-youngest player to be nominated for the Norris Trophy since Bobby Orr. He’s also the first Kings defenseman since Rob Blake in the 1999-2000 season to be elected as an All-Star.

Among Canada’s best players at the 2009 World Hockey Championships in Switzerland, as well as at the Olympics in 2010, Doughty has already shown he is among the elite.

His passing skills and vision are only matched by his speed and uncanny hockey sense. His humble nature disarms even the most ardent distractor. His defensive game, meanwhile, is still developing, but Doughty has shown no fear of delivering the big hit—just ask Taylor Hall.

At just 20 years of age, Doughty stands on the brink of superstardom and highlights an excellent mix of talent, youth and experience in the LA defensive corps.

With 16 goals and 43 assists last season, Doughty helped transform and revive the Kings' transition game.

Helping take the Kings to the postseason for the first time since 2002, he led all defenders in scoring in the first round.

Doughty was above the point-per-game mark and recorded three goals and four assists in the six games played.

On July 1st, he becomes a restricted free agent and will receive a hefty raise before it’s all said and done. The Kings would be foolish not to retain the youngster at any cost, but could break the bank by signing him.

Earlier this year, the Kings signed Jack Johnson to a seven-year contract extension, but could Drew Doughty sign for possibly longer?

Long-term contracts and the obvious effect they can have on salary cap flexibility may be scaring away GM’s, but how could Doughty not command a long-term deal?

While a contract like Ilya Kovalchuk's may not be comparable in dollars, the Kings would be wise to make sure Doughty retires in their colors.

What's more, with Michal Handzus and Alexi Ponikarovsky becoming UFA’s at the end of the year, it's not like the Kings don't have any options with the combined 7.2 million dollar cap hit.

Wayne Simmonds is also a restricted free agent at year’s end and should also need a raise, making just $821,667 this year.

The drop-off from dominant to elite may not be far for NHL defenseman, and in a league starved at the position, Doughty is the gold standard.

He has a resume of international play that rivals many veterans and he just may be the difference for the Kings this year.

Defenders just aren’t supposed to be this good as early as this, and Doughty’s ability to raise his game as the stakes mount make him irreplaceable.

The NHL’s elite defenseman are paid in the six-to-seven million dollar neighborhood, but Doughty could be moving to the penthouse on the hill after this year.

Making approximately 3.5 million dollars now, he stands to get a big-time raise, especially if the Kings go deep in the playoffs behind his play.

Growing up a Kings fan because of his love for Wayne Gretzky adds the cherry on top for his new contract.

Now, the only question is, how much of the salary cap pie will Dean Lombardi and the Kings give him?


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