No more jokes about not being able to spell drought without Doughty. Drew got his first goal of the season with a shot from the left faceoff circle through traffic 6:28 into the second period Tuesday night at Staples Center. The Kings built a 2-0 lead in the second period over the Phoenix Coyotes for the second consecutive night. Meanwhile, the Coyotes’ scoreless streak reached 234:05, a franchise record. The Coyotes haven’t scored since their victory last Tuesday over the Kings in Glendale, Ariz. The Coyotes’ previous mark of futility was 226:21, set from Feb. 25 to March 3, 1998.
Came across this gem of a quote on the audio recorder from Kings captain Dustin Brown, who credited the play of young defensemen, including Slava Voynov, for the team’s recent surge in scoring. They are passing the puck more efficiently to the forwards and also contributing scoring, where everyone was coming up (almost) empty to start the season.
First periods have been as tedious as third periods have been exciting lately for the Kings. There were only a handful of compelling moments in Thursday’s opening period, with Jaromir Jagr scoring on a power play for the Dallas Stars and Trevor Lewis countering with an even-strength strike for the Kings. Drew Doughty, looking for his first goal of the season, made a pretty move as he swept around the back of the net, but Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen denied him on a wraparound try.
Conventional wisdom suggested the Kings might be in serious trouble after veteran defensemen Matt Greene (back surgery) and Willie Mitchell (knee surgery) were injured. After all, they were huge factors in the Kings’ run to the Stanley Cup championship last spring. Who would replace them? How would they measure up?
Here’s the money quote, courtesy of Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, after Monday’s 5-2 win over the Ducks at Staples Center: “We constantly kept saying how important these two points were, division game, team that’s in second place and team that’s hot. That was the first time, in the third period, I felt like we were clicking like we did last year.”
Drew Doughty played on a World Junior championship team with Canada in 2008, a gold medal-winning team in the 2010 Olympics and a Stanley Cup title team with the Kings in 2012. He also was a finalist for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman in 2010.
Is he ready for a new role as a mentor to the Kings’ Kiddie Korps on the blue line?
No team in the NHL has racked up as many frequent-flier miles as the Kings so far this season. But that changes dramatically starting Saturday afternoon, with the Kings playing host to the Colorado Avalanche and beginning a stretch of 13 of their next 16 games at Staples Center.
The Kings played only four of their first 15 games on home ice, which might or might not account for their pedestrian 7-6-2 record to begin their Stanley Cup championship defense. The Kings are 2-1-1 at Staples Center to start the season.
“It’s really good to be home,” Doughty said. “I know everyone’s excited to get this little homestand going. We’ve got a lot of big games at home. Being on the road for so long to start the season is tough. To finally get this stretch in front of the home fans … is a huge advantage for us.”
The Kings rebounded from a poor start to their recently-completed three-game trip to win two in a row heading into Saturday’s home date with the Colorado Avalanche. So, what changed after the Kings’ fell behind the Chicago Blackhawks by three goals en route to a 3-2 loss last Sunday? Nothing and everything, according to Drew Doughty.
This video, courtesy of Canadian broadcaster CTV via YouTube, pretty much speaks for itself. For many, it will be the first look Kings fans have gotten at Drew Doughty since last season’s playoffs:
Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber was awarded $7.5 million today in arbitration. That’s the highest arbitration award in NHL history, surpassing the $7 million award to John LeClair in 2000.
Weber also becomes the game’s highest-paid defenseman, surpassing Brian Campbell’s $7,142,875 average annual salary through 2015-16.
The arbitration award probably comes as bad news for Nashville, certainly comes as great news to Weber, and can’t be bad for Drew Doughty. With Doughty and the Kings still working on a new contract, Weber’s salary will certainly become a bargaining chip on Doughty’s table.
But how much is that chip worth?
Kings GM Dean Lombardi was asked essentially that very question last week, following Mike Richards’ introductory press conference.
“I think (Weber’s contract) gives you some evidence, but even he’s different because he’s a year from (unrestricted) free agency,” Lombardi said. “That’s one of the hard parts you’ve got here – there’s not a lot of defensemen, other than Dion Phaneuf, Duncan Keith, there hasn’t been a lot-a lot of these top young kids who have gotten top dollar, most of them are forwards. You’ve got a big hole in the market of what defensemen are (worth). You could even say (Keith) Yandle, there’s a similarity in numbers but he’s older than Drew. So he’s not totally analagous. You could say Weber – but he’s older, he’s one year away.
“So is it relevant? Yes, but it’s a question of how much weight you really give it. You’ve got a lot of these things that are out there, throw in the fact that the CBA is going to be up …you’ve got all of these little issues, piece in how much weight you give each one, then put it all together.”
Doughty earned $3.475 million including bonuses last season in the final year of his entry-level contract, according to capgeek.com. Like Weber, he’s already finished second in the Norris Trophy race. Doughty can argue that his 43 assists and 59 points in 2009-10 were both better than Weber’s single-season career bests, but Weber boasts four seasons with at least 16 goals. Doughty dipped to 11 goals and 29 assists last season; Weber had 16 and 32, respectively.
Most important to remember, an independent arbitrator will not have the final say of how much Doughty makes. The Kings will certainly try to convince Doughty’s camp to be flexible with the structure of his next contract by asking him to consider the bigger team picture.
“Our biggest concern is fitting it into a salary structure that allows us to -that’s our biggest concern. However you come to the number, the bottom line is making that number fit in where you are and where you want to go,” Lombardi said last week.