May 2, 2010 4:56 pm

Player evaluation: Doughty

DREW DOUGHTY Doughty mug
This season: 82 games, 16 goals, 43 assists, 54 penalty minutes, 24:58 average ice time.
The good: Let’s see. All Doughty did, as a 20-year-old in his second NHL season was…lead the Kings in average ice time, lead all defensemen in goals, assists and points, finish second on the team in assists and points, play significant power-play time, win a gold medal in the Olympics with Canada and become a finalist for the Norris Trophy. He’s 20. For those who asked how Doughty could build off a great rookie season, he answered by making subtle improvements to his defensive game and significant improvements to his offensive game. His improved shot from the point now allows him to be a major threat, both 5-on-5 and on the power play. He appears to be unaffected by all the success and seems to be well-liked in the locker room.
The bad: There’s not much, but a 20-year-old player is always going to be a work in progress. Doughty can still stand to improve his conditioning, so that he’s just as strong at the end of a long shift as he is at the beginning. The very best defensemen pull that off. Doughty has a tendency, at times, to try to do too much, but given his skill, it’s tough to blame him too much for that.
Going forward: Wherever he’s going, it’s going to fun to watch him get there. It’s never wise to project what a young player might be able to accomplish in his career, but it’s worth noting that, in general, defensemen often don’t even start figuring out the NHL game until they reach their mid-20s. Some of the league’s other top defensemen average 26-plus minutes per game. Can Doughty reach that mark, at a high level? Can he elevate his offensive game to yet another level, as he said he seeks to?

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