NHL Free Agents 2011: Will the L.A. Kings Pay Drew Doughty What He's Worth?

Liz BrownsteinContributor IJuly 5, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 02:  Drew Doughty #8 of the Los Angeles Kings looks on against the Dallas Stars at Staples Center on April 2, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Drew Doughty has been argued as one of the biggest names going into free agency this year. Considering he still hasn’t settled into a team for next year, he’s one of the names that hasn’t just been thrown around, but now has been followed by plenty of question marks.

How much is he worth? Will the Los Angeles Kings pay him enough? Will his ego be in the way and make him demand a bigger salary? Will another team present an unmatchable offer sheet?

At just 21 years old, the star defender already has an Olympic gold medal to his name, and a Norris Trophy nomination both in 2010.

On top of all of these accomplishments, Doughty has tallied at least 10 goals and 40 points in two of his three NHL seasons, including a career season in 2009-10 with 59 points.

At his young age he clearly has the potential to grow into one of the League's best defenders, however, he needs to be surrounded by a team and franchise that will help him further mature as a player.

When it comes to how much the young defender is worth, there could be cases made for any amount of money ranging upward of about $2.5 million.

So when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, the Kings will always have first dibs on this restricted free agent defender, however there are, of course, other teams with him on their radar.

Plenty of other teams will probably present Doughty with sizeable offer sheets, and the big question will be if the Kings will match the offers.

Doughty has proven that he really deserves a substantial pay raise from the $875,000 entry-level salary he was paid this past season, but how much is he worth to the Kings?

The Kings have pretty much set their offense roster for next year aside from a few restricted free agents, but LA still has enough cap space to lock Doughty up for several upcoming seasons.

But the main question remains, will the Kings match what other teams might offer? Teams who are lacking in defensive strength, such as Colorado or Edmonton, might be willing to offer up even more money than Los Angeles is willing to pay.

In short, as long as Doughty keeps his ego aside and is interested in more than the money, the Kings will likely wrap him up in a long-term deal. LA will at least try to keep Doughty around as a franchise player that they can build an entire defense around.