With the 2017-2018 NHL season officially over, discussions regarding contract extensions, management changes, and preparation for the next season have started to heat up across the league. For the Los Angeles Kings, who have been finished with their season since late April, re-signing star defenseman Drew Doughty has become one of their main priorities. Doughty is set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer in 2019, but he has the opportunity to discuss and sign a contract extension beginning July 1 of this year.
Doughty has been part of the Kings’ organization since he was drafted second overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, and he has quickly established himself as a franchise defenseman. With the Kings, he is a two-time Stanley Cup champion and has appeared in four consecutive All-Star Games. Doughty won the Norris Trophy for the 2015-2016 season, and after achieving a career high in assists and points, he is also a Norris Trophy finalist for this past season.
If the Kings and Doughty are unable to reach an agreement for a contract extension, Doughty will most likely be a highly coveted defenseman in 2019. He is a veteran defenseman who brings plenty of playoff experience in addition to being a high scoring player. During the 2017-2018 season, he was the third highest scoring player for the Kings with 10 goals and 50 assists.
While Doughty has stated that he would be willing to re-sign with the Kings, he has not ruled out other options. He continues to maintain his focus on wanting to belong to a team that is a Stanley Cup contender. The Kings reached the 2018 playoffs, but that was short lived after they were swept by the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round. Despite their disappointing playoff performance, the Kings still have plenty of potential and seem to be heading back in the right direction after switching up their front office last season.
Realistically, re-signing Doughty will not be easy due to the fact that a player of his caliber will be expecting a hefty contract. As one of the top defensemen in the league in addition to his impressive performance last season, Doughty is up for a big payday. The Kings may not be able to provide a deal that matches what he is expecting. If all goes well, the Kings can get something done that satisfies both parties, but if not, the Kings do have some younger players and prospects that could be given the opportunity to rise to the occasion.
Nevertheless, early reports say that contract discussions between the Kings and Doughty are going well, although offers cannot officially be made until July. Doughty has been a large part of the Kings and their success over the years, so hopefully the fact that the Kings have a lot of potential in the future is enough incentive for him to stay. However, if Doughty decides to pursue other options, the Kings will be left with a serious hole to fill. Hopefully, when July 1 arrives, there will be more clarity regarding Doughty’s future with the Kings.