At the conclusion of every regular season, the Professional Hockey Writers Association name the top producers at each position to the NHL All-Star Teams. For the first time in his career, Los Angeles Kings defender Drew Doughty finished the 2018-19 campaign without a single vote.
While he stayed consistent offensively, Doughty recorded his worst defensive season to date. Like some of his teammates, he saw career-highs and lows in multiple categories … and not in a good light. Let’s take a closer look at Doughty’s recent downfall.
A Season to Forget
The 2015-16 James Norris Memorial Trophy recipient had a dissatisfying 2018-19 season. Offensively in 82 games, Doughty registered eight goals and 34 assists for 45 points. Although he saw a 15-point decrease from 2017-18, the former second-overall pick managed to remain uniform.
However, it was a different scenario defensively. Doughty went from recording a plus/minus of plus-23 in 2017-18 to a shockingly upsetting minus-34. The plus/minus stat was good enough for second-worst in the league behind Buffalo Sabre Rasmus Ristolainen (minus-41). It’s by far the worst of his career and his worst since the 2011-12 season (minus-two).
The Canadian native committed a team-high and new career-high of 105 giveaways, with Derek Forbort behind at 78. Additionally, while on the ice, opponents scored 128 goals against the Kings, with 35 of them on the man-advantage and 83 at even strength – all new career-highs for Doughty.
Although he managed to register 120 blocks, the defenseman and the Kings saw many shifts and lack of execution like the play shown below.
Diving into deeper and more complicated stats, such as Corsi, Doughty recorded a career-low, 47.5 Corsi for percentage. This means that whenever he was on the ice, the Kings only held possession 47.5 percent of the time, which is slightly below average.
As for PDO, the difference between Doughty’s last two seasons stood out. In hockey, PDO measures shooting and save percentage at even strength. During the 2017-18 season, the Kings recorded 93 goals while Doughty was on the ice. As for 2018-19, the team scored only 56, which is Doughty’s worst since 2012-13 (42).
Due to his unproductive performance, his name was rumored to be traded, even with signing a contract extension in 2018. Doughty is known as one of the most dynamic defensemen in Kings history, but all throughout the 2018-19 season, he seemed more like a liability.
It was a frustrating season for Doughty and he made it perfectly clear. The long-time King went the entire 2018-19 season without receiving a vote for an All-Star Team, Norris and Hart Trophies. Similar to Kopitar’s case, the flawed coaching staff could’ve played a role in the defenseman’s odd season.
In 2017-18 under John Stevens, the Kings scored 237 goals and surrendered 202 during the regular season. With Willie Desjardins, the team netted 199 and gave up 259. Regardless of where the blame is placed, Doughty needs to be a better leader at the back end.
Not only does the team need to improve as whole, so does Doughty offensively and defensively. On Aug. 19, NHL Network ranked Doughty among the league’s top defensemen heading into the 2019-20 season. It’s possible he could return to his Norris Trophy play level with Todd McLellan now calling the shots.
With new additions and aspiration in sight, Doughty and the Kings can only go up from here. He’s eager to get back to work.
“We’re excited to have another opportunity to show everyone we still have it and we can still be a contending team. It might not be right off the bat, it’s going to take some work, but it’s going to happen.”— Drew Doughty to NHL.com
Final Grade: C
Sara Biela is a Los Angeles Kings contributor for The Hockey Writers. Biela graduated from San Jose State University in 2019 with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism. She covered SJSU Athletics and the San Jose Sharks through the college’s student-run sports-media publication, The Spear.