From the moment the Kings drafted Drew Doughty in June, the expectation was that Doughty would make the team this season. Few could have guessed, though, that Doughty would arguably be the Kings’ best defenseman and regular leader in ice time, while playing big minutes on both the power play and the penalty kill. Doughty has responded well to every challenge he has been given, and his ice time continues to increase. Here’s his last four games:
Nov. 6 vs. Florida: 20 minutes, 54 seconds
Nov. 8 vs. St. Louis: 25:09
Nov. 11 vs. Dallas: 24:41
Nov. 13 at Dallas: 27:05
For the season, Doughty is averaging 22:32 per game, 10 seconds fewer than Kyle Quincey. Here’s what Terry Murray said today about Doughty’s development…
Question: Before the season, did you have any particular expectations for Doughty, in terms of how much he would be able to play and contribute?
MURRAY: “I didn’t know what to expect. Of course, I’ve seen many 18-year-olds over the years, players who have come in and played, and played well. I think in my past experience, the top 18-year-olds have adjusted very well, but with Doughty, he’s certainly a player who is taking a big part of the minutes right. He played 27-plus minutes last night and that’s pretty exceptional, I think, for a player that age. He handles it with such composure and poise. There’s no doubt that O’Donnell has really helped him a lot in his development to date. As the game goes on, and the more minutes he plays in any particular game, he seems to get to be a better player. He just gets into a zone. You hear that often talked about with athletes, and you just let them play. You’re so focused on playing that the amount of the workload really has no effect on you. He seems to be that kind of a player. That’s something that will never go away, when you have that kind of skill, that aspect to your game. It’s pretty special.”
Question: Going forward, what do you have to guard against with him? Anything you have to keep an eye on?
MURRAY: “Yes. The one thing you need to be conscious of, at least from a defenseman’s aspect, is that they’re not trying to do too much. In the juniors, when you have a player of that ability, they can take a game over and control a game for the 35 minutes or 40 minutes that they’re out there. It’s a different animal here. If you’re going to play at a young age, we really want the focus to be on smart defensive-zone play, reading the rush and handling that part of it, and know that when you do have the puck on the breakout, we’re looking for you to pass it and make good decisions with it. We’re not looking for a young guy, or even a veteran, to transport the puck from one end of the ice to the other. You do get into many situations where it will come back on you. So that’s the habit you’ve got to be alert to, and have constant reminders and reviews that you just have to play within the game, play within the system and those opportunities to really jump out and do something special will always present themselves to those kinds of players. That’s when they can recognize it and they can do it.”