DrewDoughty

 

What's Up With Drew Doughty?


With the NHL Lockout delaying the start of the season until mid January, the Los Angeles Kings would have had to have been confident that they could avoid a Stanley Cup hangover. Playing well into June as the Kings did last summer meant plenty of bumps and bruises, as well as some significant injuries. Los Angeles started a little slow out of the gates, but they seem to have turned things around and their top scorers are all rounding into form nicely. All except Drew Doughty that is.


Doughty has actually been on a steady decline since his 2009-10 sophomore season when he exploded for 16 goals and 59 points, with a plus-20 rating. The Kings thought they had a perennial Norris Trophy candidate, and many fantasy hockey participants thought they had the backbone of their squad for years to come.

Now Doughty hasn't been horrible since 2009-10, but he has definitely fallen below expectations. He followed up his excellent 2009-10 campaign with a 40 point year in 2010-11, which was a 19 point drop off. Then last year he was only able to hit 36 points. However, there was reason for optimism during the Kings' lengthy playoff run. Doughty posted 16 points in 20 post-season games that culminated with a Stanley Cup.

So I'm sure many poolies felt that Doughty would bounce back strongly in 2013. So far though, much to the chagrin of many, the strong skating Kings blueliner is off to a rocky start. Doughty has yet to score a goal and has just eight assists, while sitting at a minus-8 rating. In fact, Slava Voynov has overtaken him for the Kings lead in scoring by a defenseman.

So what has happened to Doughty over the last few seasons? Well typically in situations like this where a player's statistics have dropped, there is more than just one factor. The first thing to look at would be who Doughty has been playing with and has that changed. The answer would be yes and no. Doughty has been playing with Rob Scuderi the majority of the time in even strength situations since 2009-10. During Doughty's 59 point campaign he saw time with Scuderi 40.51% of the time and this season the two are playing together at a similar rate of 34.75%. So you can pretty much rule out his defensive partner being a factor in Doughty’s decline in scoring.

However, the situation above relates to even strength and Doughty's time on the power play has been changed drastically. When Jack Johnson was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets late in 2011-12, Doughty's numbers took a big hit. The two were Los Angeles' main point men on the power play and connected for 31 points together in that area since 2009-10. Last year Doughty had 11 points with Johnson in power play situations, but when Johnson left for Columbus, Doughty was only able to get one point in his final 21 games with the man advantage.

Something else to consider when it comes to Doughty is how the Kings have played as a group over the last few years. In 2009-10, when Doughty had 59 points, Los Angeles was ninth overall in the National Hockey League when it came to goals for. Since then, however, they have finished 25th, 29th, and sit 19th currently in that category. Team scoring can obviously directly help a player's production in the way of secondary assists, especially for a defenseman like Doughty who can often start a rush with a pass. Have a look at his secondary assist numbers for the 2009-10 year.


Rank

Name

Pos

Age

Yrs

Team

GR

GP

1st

2nd

EV 1st

PP 1st

SH 1st

EV 2nd

PP 2nd

SH 2nd

Total

 

KOPITAR,ANZE

C

25

6

L.A

30

82

22

25

9

13

0

14

11

0

47

 

DOUGHTY,DREW

D

23

4

L.A

30

82

23

20

13

10

0

8

12

0

43

 

JOHNSON,JACK

D

26

6

L.A

27

80

12

16

9

3

0

9

7

0

28

 

SMYTH,RYAN

L

37

17

L.A

28

67

15

16

9

6

0

9

7

0

31

 

FROLOV,ALEXANDER

L

30

8

L.A

 

81

20

12

16

4

0

8

4

0

32



You can see Doughty ranked second on the Kings with 20 secondary helpers, behind only Anze Kopitar. Last year when Los Angeles was second last in the NHL when it came to goals for, Doughty's secondary assists dropped all the way down to 11.

 

Rank

Name

Pos

Age

Yrs

Team

GR

GP

1st

2nd

EV 1st

PP 1st

SH 1st

EV 2nd

PP 2nd

SH 2nd

Total

1

KOPITAR,ANZE

C

25

6

L.A

30

82

24

27

18

4

2

13

14

0

51

2

WILLIAMS,JUSTIN

R

31

11

L.A

30

82

21

16

15

6

0

12

4

0

37

3

BROWN,DUSTIN

L

28

8

L.A

30

82

18

14

13

3

2

10

4

0

32

6

MITCHELL,WILLIE

D

35

12

L.A

30

76

6

13

2

1

3

9

4

0

19

4

DOUGHTY,DREW

D

23

4

L.A

30

77

16

11

9

7

0

8

3

0

27

 

A nine point swing for a defenseman in that area is really crucial for fantasy hockey. It's the difference between a solid season and an average one.

It's one thing for a player's points to drop, but depending on the league you are in, a freefall in plus/minus can take its toll as well. Doughty has gone from a plus-20 player in 2009-10 to a minus-8 rating right now, which is worst on the Kings. One explanation for that would simply be that his points are down, but it seems to be much more than that. Over the last three seasons he has led the team in giveaways, but his ability to find the score sheet and Scuderi’s decent defensive play have usually made up for it. In 2013 though, the normally reliable Scuderi leads the squad in the giveaway department and Doughty sits tied for second, making them a less than friendly plus/minus pairing. Doughty's rating hasn't been this bad since his rookie season when he posted a minus-17 mark and only collected a career low 27 points.

Let's also not discount the arrival of head coach Darryl Sutter and how that has changed Doughty's game. Sutter took over the team midway through last season and made the move to play Doughty as more of a shut down defenseman against the opponent's top lines. That shift may be a sign that the organization has confidence in Doughty, but that isn't an easy role to play and it doesn't necessarily help his production and plus/minus.

The other thing to keep in mind is that perhaps the rest of the NHL has just adjusted to Doughty's game and are better prepared to play against him now. It will be his job to evolve and become a major threat once again. His skill set is such that he shouldn't be affected this greatly by the circumstances around him. Instead, Doughty's abilities should benefit all his team-mates in a positive fashion.

Many in the fantasy hockey world want to give Doughty the benefit of the doubt, but there is still a realistic possibility he may never reach the heights of 2009-10 again. And for the Kings, poolies, and Doughty himself, that would be a real shame.  

 

Feel free to follow me on Twitter at @amato_mike

 


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Comments (8)add comment

Ryan Ma said:

Maaaasquito
Doughty One of the big factors for me is % of team points... If you look at the numbers, I think they're beginning to "normalize" with his breakout year being the deviation from the norm. Yes the team factor has played a role, the team changing to a defensive scheme certainly doesn't help but what you have to also consider is that the percentages should stay relatively the same...

27 of 538 (5%)
59 of 639 (9.2%)
40 of 579 (6.9%)
36 of 516 (7%)
8 of 128 (6.3%)

An interesting stat (which would be very hard to track since the game is so fast) that I think poolies should look into developing is touches/possessions per game. That would be a good indication of who's actually active as opposed to just "being on the ice."

I've watched a few Kings' games over the past few years and the biggest thing that I've noticed is the change in his game. The primary difference between his 2008-09 year and now is how active he is on the ice. In 2008-09 he was very active touching pucks all the time, getting them on net or dumping them down low, he was always the 2nd last or 3rd last man to touch the puck. During the past few years, he's been a "phantom" player, he touches is once or twice in the offensive zone then passes it down low to Kops, Richards, Brown, Williams or Carter and they do all the work and Doughty misses out on the points when they do score... You can blame that on depth charts or better talent up front, but it's noticeably different between the two years.

Until he gets more active and is more involved, as Pengwin said, expect him to stay within the 35-40 point range. Only the select few who are consistently in on the play will garner 45+, but we as poolies suddenly have made that into the "norm". But that's the same mentality as a "point-per-game" player for forwards. Poolies always tend to look for "upside numbers" as opposed to "realistic numbers", which is the trap that many have fallen into with Doughty.
March 04, 2013
Votes: +0

Rad64 said:

Rad64
... Great article, Tyler Myers is another example of a defenseman who hasn't lived up to his huge contract. You have to wonder if the big paydays have an influence, as well.
March 04, 2013
Votes: +0

Rollie1967 said:

Rollie1967
... no Mitchell or Greene for most of the year maybe forcing Sutter to play Doughty in less than ideal offensive situations. I wonder about his conditioning and maturity,success at an early age does have its pitfalls. Look at Patrick Kane, great first year, then coasted for a few before he got serious again this year- looks like a completely different player. Hopefully Doughty is able to rebound into a top 3 in the league dman again.
March 04, 2013
Votes: +1

Isle B. said:

Isle B.
... Sorry for the typos!
March 04, 2013
Votes: +0

Isle B. said:

Isle B.
... That is a lot of analysis!

A shorter answer is that:

1. Doughty is just not play well at all with the puck. He has really lost his offensive touch this season.

2. The Kings are playing without half their defense corps from last's cup run and Doughty has been overworked.

3. The Kings are one of the worst offensive teams in the league right now with the exception of Jeff Carter.

4. The Kings' powerplay has been inneffective and Voynov and Muzzin are getting more and more time at the points.

March 04, 2013
Votes: +0

Pengwin7 said:

Pengwin7
Very nice. Great piece here.
I really enjoyed that you took a look at 2nd assists. I think analyzing 1st vs 2nd assists is something that we don't do enough and could lend some thought towards predicting future years.

The biggest thing with Doughty, IMO, is a common mistake we all seem to make.
A guy explodes in his 2nd/3rd/4th season and we all decide "oh, that will be his new benchmark - he'll hit that or do better". No, no, no. Even young players can have a good season where things go very right.

We should really only consider that there is handful of defensemen that are going to hit 50+pts consistently: Lidstrom, Karlsson, a healthy Letang. Most solid defensemen are going to be consistently in the 40-50 range with a bad year in the 30s and a good year in the mid-to-high 50s. AND for defensemen, so much hinges on the efficiency of their PP (which can fluctuate wildly year-to-year).

For example, as of this morning, the highest ranked defenseman in standard Yahoo multi-cat:
66. Kronwall
75. Timonen
78. Ekman-Larsson
Pretty much everybody that overinvested in defensemen this year is having a tough go in their pools. Those of us that drafted forwards & goalie-heavy... probably doing a little bit better.

Alex Pietrangelo, for example, is ranked as Yahoo #305 (which is an accurate rank).
Way too many people saw AP's "breakout year" and dubbed him able to repeat that as his new benchmark. No, no, no.

In summary, Doughty is a solid defenseman... but I think he's in a group of about 15-20 defensemen that could all finish between 2nd & 20th in scoring. I think you nailed in in your last paragraph when you say "there is still a realistic possibility he may never reach the heights of 2009-10 again". So few people accept that a player MAY have his career season in one of his first four... and then not repeat it again.

Well done here.
Thumbs up.
March 04, 2013
Votes: +0

Axeman33 said:

Axeman33
... Thomas Hickey (NYI) has more goals than Doughty this year. That's sad.
March 04, 2013
Votes: +0

Shoeless said:

Shoeless
this and that Regarding cup hangover - I think the psychological component of such a beast is often under-considered by poolies - overcoming that isn't a matter of rest - so I think that this is a factor in the Kings offensive production to date.

Doughty is still a kid and still learning the game - his big season was perhaps a little flukish, but he will get back to close to that value again. The hype is disappearing but as an owner I am not going to let that cause me to undervalue him as a keeper.
March 04, 2013
Votes: +1
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