Drew Doughty: Has the LA King Earned His New Contract After Only 3 Years?

Franklin SteeleAnalyst IISeptember 30, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 27:  Drew Doughty #8 of the Los Angeles Kings waits before the syart of the game against the Chicago Blackhawks at Staples Center on November 27, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Late last night, news of Drew Doughty finally re-signing with the Los Angeles Kings came over the wire. While the dollars and term weren't immediately clear, eventually sites like thefourthperiod.com and various Twitter accounts filled in these blanks.

Eight years. $7 million per.

As your eyes roll over those numbers a very simple question should register in your mind:  Is Doughty already worth $7 million dollars a season?

The 21-year-old defenseman led the Kings in ice time last season (over 25 minutes per game), quarterbacks their power play and plays in the most important situations for LA.  He's also been central in the resurgence of the team since he was drafted second overall in 2008.

Three years after the fact he is set to become one of the highest-paid defenseman in the NHL.  But that should not be the case.  There is a particular pecking order to things that Doughty and agent Don Meehan blew off here, and the Kings are in danger of paying dearly in the long run.

Because usually players sign contracts based on what they already have accomplished.  Not what they could accomplish.  Potential absolutely must be considered when drawing up these deals, but $7 million to a guy that only has one Norris Trophy nomination and two first-round playoff exits to his name is recipe for disaster in Los Angeles.

Especially considering the fact that 2010-2011 was forgettable for Doughty.  Forty points from the blue line is nothing to sneeze at, but those aren't $7 million numbers.  Forty points was good for 24th in the league, right there with respectable guys like Joe Corvo and Cam Fowler.

But Doughty didn't even manage to outscore teammate Jack Johnson last season.

So he had one outstanding season in 2009-2010, and one decent season last year.  While his numbers put him in the same ballpark as Mark Giordano, his paycheck is among the biggest in the NHL for defenseman.

Duncan Keith will be the highest-paid blueliner in the league this season, bringing in $8 million for his services in Chicago.  The 28 year-old already has a Cup and a Norris to his credit, and is arguably the cornerstone of the youthful Blackhawks.

Chris Pronger, Zdeno Chara and Nicklas Lidstrom are also making money similar to Doughty.  And I don't think I need to go over the credentials of that group.

But if you look over the resume of Doughty, you can't help but feel like the cart is going before the horse.  No Cups.  No first team All-Star selections.  No Norris Trophies.  Not even a playoff round victory is there.

The kid is going to be good.  There is no denying that.  But the Kings have really left themselves open for some salary cap hell if it was the real Drew Doughty stood up last season.  Even Mike Green, one of the best point-producing blueliners in the league, is only making just over $5 million a season.

Eight years is an eternity in pro sports.  Doughty will be almost 30 years old by the time this contract is up, and a lot can change over the course of nearly a decade.  Look no further than the New York Islanders and their once-promising cornerstone, Rick DiPietro.

I don't honestly believe that 40 points will be the norm for Doughty.  And I think he'll add a Norris to his mantle sooner rather than later.  I just feel that the Kings are taking a high-dollar, long-term risk by not quite knowing for sure.  

Right now they are paying a lot of money for one good season and a Hail Mary to the hockey Gods.