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Poll: Is Drew Doughty the best defenseman in the world?

Aug 1, 2014, 2:55 PM EDT

Drew Doughty Getty Images

When Los Angeles Kings forward Anze Kopitar referred to Drew Doughty as “our Nick Lidstrom” back in May, was that really an outrageous statement? Let’s get this out of the way: Doughty hasn’t accomplished even half of what Lidstrom did, but at the age of 24, Doughty has achieved a lot.

Doughty has played a huge role in the Kings’ resurgence and is one of the main reasons they’ve won the Stanley Cup in two of the last three years. It’s not just his teammates or admires that recognize what he brings to the table either. Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray identified Doughty as the difference between his squad and the championship Kings.

He’s also excelled internationally as illustrated by his two Olympic gold medals and his gold medal from the 2008 World Junior Championship. He was also part of the 2008 tournament’s All-Star team.

At the same time, while he has played a big role in guiding teams to victory, he doesn’t have much in the way of individual awards. He’s never finished higher than third in the Norris Trophy voting and the last time he even got that high was in 2009-10 when he recorded 59 points. The Norris Trophy typically goes to a blueliner that’s prolific offensively in addition to being strong in other aspects of the game, but Doughty hasn’t recorded more than 40 points since 2009-10.

To put that into context, the last Norris Trophy winner with 40 or less points was Rod Langway in 1983 and 1984.

With that in mind, is Doughty the best defenseman in the world today? Is the fact that he hasn’t won the Norris Trophy yet holding him back from that title?

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  1. lordfletcher - Aug 1, 2014 at 2:58 PM

    GAWD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    let it be September

    • lordfletcher - Aug 1, 2014 at 3:05 PM

      my two cents worth… I said no. I don’t think he is the best, mostly because I can pin point who is the best at this moment in time. If Weber was on a team worth a damn (sorry) he would really stand out…. but for now I vote no, mostly because I honestly think the top 5 is pretty equal and there is no way of really knowing. His hardware is impressive but Kings are well balanced and Quick doesn’t hurt and Team Canada isn’t really fair so…

      meh. #watercooler

      • lordfletcher - Aug 1, 2014 at 3:06 PM

        this was supposed to read can’t …. “mostly because I can pin point” can’t pin point… confusing when you miss a letter :)

        my bad.

  2. lowenni - Aug 1, 2014 at 2:59 PM

    For me it’s really a toss up between Doughty and Weber. Chara used to be #1 but I think he is slowing down, still top 5. Doughty’s skill level combined with hockey IQ is definitely the best out of any defenseman, and that really showed in the playoffs this year. Weber brings size and a mean streak however that adds to his case as well, plus that cannon of a shot. Two amazing defenseman, and it’d be hard for me to pick which one I would want to build around if I were starting a team from scratch. I think Doughty’s hardware speaks for itself however–sure, he doesn’t have a Norris, but people win for a reason–and he’s certainly won a lot.

    • shaundre93 - Aug 1, 2014 at 5:52 PM

      Chara + Suter + Weber + Doughty = 1 Norris

      Karlsson + Subban + Green + Keith = 4 Norris’s

      There’s something very very wrong with this

      • lowenni - Aug 1, 2014 at 7:41 PM

        Don’t know why you included Green on there because he hasn’t won a Norris. Also don’t know why you included Duncan Keith in the “wrong category” cause he’s one hell of a defenseman and completely deserved it this year. I do agree with Subban and Karlsson over the others, however, although Karlsson’s year in which he won it was very impressive. 70+ points for a defenseman is really a rarity.

      • shaundre93 - Aug 1, 2014 at 8:43 PM

        I thought Green won that year he had a bunch of G’s, my bad. I definitely think Keith is the best of my “wrong group”, but it still bothers me that he won on virtue of having the most assists. He doesn’t even play a shutdown role for his own team, NH and Oduya do that. Imo, the award should have gone to Hedman, Chara or Weber because those three basically singlehandedly ran the D while providing well above average offense for their teams.

      • lowenni - Aug 2, 2014 at 1:20 AM

        Good point, fair enough.

  3. bek3017 - Aug 1, 2014 at 2:59 PM

    No, two cups with amazing teamates as well as in the olympics he had a great team surrounding him

  4. skr213 - Aug 1, 2014 at 2:59 PM

    As a Sharks fan, I hate the Kings, but I actually voted yes on this. He’s one of the few out there who has top notch chops in both zones. P.S. you may want to fix the typo in the subheadline.

    • nightfireop - Aug 1, 2014 at 4:15 PM

      he saw the fear in your team captain, i guess that makes him a soul-reader too :P

      • skr213 - Aug 1, 2014 at 5:29 PM

        It doesn’t take a soul reader to have seen the fear in Zen Joe’s eyes, unfortunately for us.

      • nightfireop - Aug 1, 2014 at 7:34 PM

        fair enough.

      • Player X - Aug 1, 2014 at 8:00 PM

        I kinda feel bad for Joe cuz when he was in his prime he wasn’t with a team that was ready, and then the team almost was ready, but he was just a touch older plus the game itself has gotten faster. Bad career timing. He did blow kisses to Kings fans after a playoff series victory here, so I kinda don’t feel bad for him at the same time.

  5. pjblake2redwings - Aug 1, 2014 at 3:03 PM

    YES he is the Best D man in the game today.. Shea Weber is very close but the resume Doughty has speaks for itself. Would love this guy on my team!

    • thesportsjudge - Aug 1, 2014 at 4:34 PM

      The resume is as much a reflection of the TEAM around him.

      • pondersucks07 - Aug 1, 2014 at 5:53 PM

        Every championship team is going to have players around them with great talent, That goes with out saying, That argument is weak and not fair to Drew. Drew plays on a team that is not going to put up a lot of stats, Because of the team first concept the Kings play under, But if you take Drew off the team, They don’t win the Cup, Besides Goalies being the most important position on a hockey club. Drew has been championship player and his resume can be put up against any other Defensemen in the league and you would be hard pressed to find one better. This is a no Brainer that Drew is a all around defensemen and is the best defensemen in the league.

      • thesportsjudge - Aug 1, 2014 at 7:02 PM

        You do realize I made no statement of which way I was leaning about DD, right?

  6. nebbah306 - Aug 1, 2014 at 3:05 PM

    Ryan McDonaugh is right on Doughty’s heels!

    -cant wait to see what Cups has to say about that comment…

    • devilsmetsgiants - Aug 1, 2014 at 3:31 PM

      Because he’s too slow to catch up.

    • nebbah306 - Aug 1, 2014 at 3:37 PM

      Cups, you’re on one of your many other accounts I see.

      seriously though, McD isnt #1, but he’s gotta be in the top 5…In no particular order, Doughty, Weber, Keith, Suter and MacD are my top 5 with Karlsson, Chara, Hedman and Pietrangelo just missing the cut.

  7. jpelle82 - Aug 1, 2014 at 3:06 PM

    while I agree he has benefitted from good teams and good coaches I still think if you put him on a team like, mmm lets say the islanders….he would drastically improve their defensive play. I personally think he’s a pretty dominant player and stands out even on the very dominant rosters he’s played on. we may never see him out on an island by himself like that though, away from la’s scheme or team canada’s roster, so who knows.

  8. btlpper68 - Aug 1, 2014 at 3:08 PM

    I’m a sharks fan, I can’t stand the kings and watch a lot of hockey both east and west coast and there’s Is no one as good as drew doughty. He’s just do dynamic offensively such a smooth skater and probably has a better shot/hands than most forwards in the league but is the same guy who can play 30 minutes a night of shutdown D. He’s just such a speical player forget the accomplishments of medals and cups, there is no one like Doughty, if I’m taking a D man I would take Doughty first then Webber.

  9. ibieiniid - Aug 1, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    milkmemalkin votes Letang.

  10. phtjoey - Aug 1, 2014 at 3:14 PM

    at 24 he’s up there among the best, and what’s scary is that he has ways to go before he’s finished getting better. scary…… Kings got themselves a damn good one.

  11. isphet71 - Aug 1, 2014 at 3:16 PM

    omg, he’s only 24? Already feels like he’s been around forever.

    As a Wings fan and someone who plays D in a (terrible) beer league, Lidstrom is my all time favorite player. He didn’t win his first Norris until he was 30 (31?) Doughty will get more than his fair share of his when all is said and done.

    Doughty is a freaking stud already, and he’s not even entering his prime years yet! I consider 26-ish to 34-ish to be the prime years for a D man, getting a little better every year until they start slowing down physically, which can even be late 30s in some cases.

    If Doughty does NOT win at least 3-4 Norris, I would be shocked. Shocked. I think only injury, or Karlsson figuring out how to play D as well as he plays O could keep Drew from his hardware.

    I’m super-jealous of how the Kings are put together right now. Will always be a Wings fan, but I’ll show respect where it is deserved. Right now the Kings and the hated Blackhawks are 1A and 1B, Grit vs. Flash.

  12. ockingsfan - Aug 1, 2014 at 3:17 PM

    Well he plays in the Pacific time zone, so that makes him ineligible to win the Norris. And besides, the Norris is not given to the best defenseman in the NHL, but instead to the best offensive defenseman, so based on that alone he will never win it with the Kings given their style of play.

    All that aside, I don’t know if I would claim he’s the best defenseman, but then again I wouldn’t claim that there is a better defenseman in the NHL. He’s right there at the top with maybe 3 or 4 others, none of whom you could make the claim that they are the single best player at their position…

    • McFaddensPulledHammy - Aug 1, 2014 at 3:34 PM

      “The James Norris Memorial Trophy is an annual award given to the defenseman who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.” per NHL.com.

      Based on your criteria, the past 5 winners would have been Karlsson, PK Subban, Karlsson, Lubimor Visnovsky, and Mark Green.

      • skr213 - Aug 1, 2014 at 7:00 PM

        Everyone knows the Norris only goes to offensive defensemen. You can’t seriously question that.

  13. snipedanglecelly13 - Aug 1, 2014 at 3:17 PM

    No DOUGHTy about it, he’s the best defenseman right now

  14. patthehockeyfan - Aug 1, 2014 at 3:22 PM

    LA Kings’ fan here, and I didn’t vote. Last I looked, the votes were about 54% NO, 46% YES.

    I love Doughty, and I think he is an outstanding defenseman. He has the ability to see a play develop before it develops, and he’s immediately on top of it as it develops. His stick- and puck-handling skills are second to none.

    The reason he hasn’t won a Norris is because the Kings style of play doesn’t allow offense from defensemen. That is, up until now. Sutter has finally cut these guys loose. Martinez scoring the series-winning goals in both Game 7 of the WCFs and Game 5 of the SCFs is proof of that. In his post-game interview, Martinez explained that Sutter instructed the defense to continue into the offensive zone if there was an odd-man rush, or to create one. That was new.

    Doughty’s performance in the Olympics was proof that he will be a viable Norris candidate. Now that he’s allowed to, once he turns it on offensively for the Kings, he’ll be taking that trophy home in no time. 2015 perhaps. I’d put money on it.

    Best in the world? Silly question.

    • 7mantel - Aug 1, 2014 at 3:33 PM

      Ryan story title is meant to stir the pot !

      • patthehockeyfan - Aug 1, 2014 at 3:42 PM

        I thought I’d hear from you 7mantel – and that you’d offer to take the bet. Money & crabcakes at Barracudas on the line. You in?

        It’s nice that these guys are awarded trophies at season’s end; but, this ‘best in the world’ stuff makes me think of the Academy Awards balloting.

      • 7mantel - Aug 1, 2014 at 3:46 PM

        Lol Ok Pat I’ll take the bet ! I can taste those crab cakes now , they taste better when some else is paying for them ! Coldest beer in Baltimore too !

      • patthehockeyfan - Aug 1, 2014 at 5:17 PM

        It’s a bet! And, bring your wallet ;)

    • pondersucks07 - Aug 1, 2014 at 5:56 PM

      Drew will never put up the numbers as a member of the Kings. Kings play a team first concept and you have to buy into the system, That scoring isn’t the main focus, But winning is.

    • pondersucks07 - Aug 1, 2014 at 6:07 PM

      When the Kings Acquired Gaborik, They became more of a offensive team than they ever were before.

  15. McFaddensPulledHammy - Aug 1, 2014 at 3:26 PM

    How is the current holder, 2 time winner of the Norris, Stanley Cup, and Olympic Gold Medal not even mentioned?

    Chara blows. Weber is #3 on the list ONLY because DK and DD can skate and handle the puck better. Ryan McDonaugh???

    In today’s NHL, puck possession is the name of the game. Is it any wonder why the Kings and IndianHeads are the #1 and #1A teams in the NHL (not in that order)? They both have stud D-Men who can play defense, handle the puck, skate, and lead a rush when needed.

  16. gbatap - Aug 1, 2014 at 3:38 PM

    He’s in the conversation. No individual awards but the Norris has become a bit of a farce. I think the most telling thing with Doughty is he went to the Olympics on a stacked team Canada and he was debatably the best player on that team in the highest pressure hockey event.

    If you were starting a franchise and got to pick any d-man in the league doughty or weber would be the pick. Personally I go doughty just because of age and the ridiculous amount of experience he has for such a young guy.

  17. billiam55 - Aug 1, 2014 at 3:45 PM

    i say no. i say he is the best on the kings and one of the best out there in the league. ya he has two cups, two gold medals. but that doesnt qualify him as being the best in the world. hockey isnt tennis or golf. it takes a team to win that cup and it took a team to win that gold medal.

    • pondersucks07 - Aug 1, 2014 at 6:02 PM

      So that is a weak argument and sounds like you don’t like Drew. The Question was is he the best defensemen, not is he the best that played on good teams, Every championship is going to have good players on it. Your argument of that point is mute at best, Take the hater out of the equation and reboot your brain and take the Drew hater out of the formula and do the math again. Some people’s kids.

      • billiam55 - Aug 1, 2014 at 6:26 PM

        nope, not a hater stop getting so defensive king fan. i said hes one of the best. i answered the question and said no. re-read what i said. u misunderstood completely. there are a lot of good defenseman just like doughty out there, some who aren’t on a stanley cup team or team canada, which is why i was talking about the team part of winning a cup or a gold medal..

  18. mb30forlife - Aug 1, 2014 at 4:00 PM

    Norris trophies dont mean sh** anymore. Duncan Keith is far from the best defense man in the league and i wouldn’t say Doughty was the best D man in the world. Best offensive D man. Sure. He is great on both sides of the ice and i would take him over Keith right now…. I would definitely put Suter and Weber as better DEFENSEMAN over him. Great yes. but best.. Arguable hence why this topic is on here. Just to give bored fans that cant wait for the new season to begin to have something to ponder on.

  19. guitarhunterdude - Aug 1, 2014 at 4:17 PM

    No, but he’s certainly top-five. There’s no clear cut top guy right now; Subban, Doughty, Weber, Karlsson, Keith, Pietrangelo, Hedman…heck, even OEL (soon, anyway) are all really, really awesome blueliners. I feel like the overall level of talent in the league is maybe higher than it’s ever been before, and that’s something we can all appreciate, regardless of who we pick as our personal top guy.

  20. jpat2424 - Aug 1, 2014 at 5:03 PM

    No

    • rsmaggiemae - Aug 1, 2014 at 6:30 PM

      This is a generational question as in my opinion the greatest D man to ever play the game was Bobby Orr… no one will ever come close to his stats that he had in his 10 short years in the NHL sorry his knee issue had to make him retire way too early
      Doughty or any other D man I doubt will ever come close to his stats

  21. evermench - Aug 1, 2014 at 5:05 PM

    Once in a generation talent! Don’t take him for granted out there folks. You’ll be sorry when he’s gone. Just ask my Red Wings. Fortunately he’s got many good years to go. You’re looking at what a Dynasty is in LA.

  22. argofckyourself - Aug 1, 2014 at 5:06 PM

    Nope, the best defenseman in the world is MacTruck Ryan McDonagh.

  23. bleedrangerblue - Aug 1, 2014 at 5:09 PM

    Chara needs to be removed from consideration. Doughty real good, remember that beauty of a goal he scored in the finals.

  24. nyking1963 - Aug 1, 2014 at 5:11 PM

    He’s the best in the NHL hands down.
    He plays close to 30 minutes a night matched up against the best players in the NHL every night and is a +player while doing so.
    He has no weakness in his game. He’s only 24. Wait until he gains more experience. If he stays healthy, he’ll be considered amongst the greatest to ever play the game.

    • patthehockeyfan - Aug 1, 2014 at 5:15 PM

      Well said!

    • endusersolutions2013 - Aug 1, 2014 at 5:44 PM

      Playing against the best? Hmmm, was that your subjective assessment? I did an assessment of 10 of the top d-men in the league a few days ago, and his Rel Corsi COQ was #7 of the 10.

      Weber was #1.

      • nyking1963 - Aug 1, 2014 at 6:53 PM

        I’ve watched every game he’s played wiith the Kings.
        That’s not a subjective assessment, that’s reality.
        You can bury your head in advanced metrics…sometimes your eyes tell you the real story.

      • endusersolutions2013 - Aug 1, 2014 at 7:31 PM

        The subjective label was not condescending, but rather subjective vs. objective. But the Rel Corsi COQ measures who a player is ligned up against. That is objective.

        It’s not the only way to assess. You’re reiterating that you’ve watched provesses my observation – that you made a subjective assessment.

        I’m suspecting that you did not major in logic.

  25. lopo - Aug 1, 2014 at 5:16 PM

    In the lists above, Chara would win for best defensive diver now, that’s about it. I’d take Doughty over Chara any day.

  26. endusersolutions2013 - Aug 1, 2014 at 5:27 PM

    I strongly disagree that he is the best, while agreeing that he is very good and one of the best. Due to all the recent news/filler items about P.K Stuban, I did an assessment of some of the better scoring d-men in the league. I looked at points, +/1, PIM (the less the better), blocked shots, Corsi on Ice and Rel Corsi COQ (quality of competition). I know that I could have included other factors, but I thought it was good enough.

    The guys I looked at were Pietrangelo, Keith, Weber, Doughty, Karlson, Kronwall, Suter, Hedman, Stuban, Wisniewski. I realize that with +/- that their #s are also impacted by the teams they played on – Doughts gets the benefit of playing with the #1 defensive team in the NHL last year, Weber and Karlson were adversely impacted by their teams. I ranked them 1-10 for each category then totaled those 6 rankings, making no attempt to weight ant.

    While Doughty (31) is clearly better than Stuban (47), I would rank Pietrangelo (19), Keith (23), Weber (30). Subjectively the gap is probably bigger due to not only the effect on +/- on who they played with, but the Rel Corsi COQ. Weber played against the best (#1 in that category), Doughty was 7 or 10.

    Weber to Hedman were close enough that I’d rate them as equivalent, with Doughty perhaps having more upside.

    So while I’d have Doughty on my team rather than Stuban if I were a GM, I’d rather have Keith (and my bias is obviously showing up here;). In all honesty, I’d REALLY like to have Keith and Doughty, along with Pietrangelo if I could perform such a cap miracle;))

  27. charliereno - Aug 1, 2014 at 6:17 PM

    Duncan Keith has 2 Norris trophies and 2 Stanley Cup rings in the last 4 years. There’s your answer.

  28. hockeydon10 - Aug 1, 2014 at 6:33 PM

    Much as I dislike the Blackhawks, I have to give grudging respect to DK. Having said that, I can’t really read this article/poll and believe it was done with a straight face.

    In the DD vs DK debate, they each have 2 Cups and each have 2 Olympic Golds. They each play against the best in the league. Doughty plays about one extra shift per game (ATOI) and Keith’s +/- is better. Corsi is pretty close between the two, with Doughty edging Keith over the last four seasons. Neither is overly physical but at the same time neither shies away from physical play or big hits.

    Once the other things are factored in, I simply couldn’t vote for Doughty. DK has two Norris Trophies, (including this year). He also put up more points over the past few seasons, including this one, and while internet experts all over like to parrot the idiotic “they put up points so they’re not defensive defensemen”, coaches love to see points from the blue line take pressure off their forwards, especially their depth forwards.

  29. nyking1963 - Aug 1, 2014 at 8:43 PM

    Endusersolutions2013
    Ill put my knowledge of hockey up against yours any day of the week.
    Real cheap shot there with the logic quip. Shows exactly what you are.
    If you want to discuss molecular biology, I’d be happy to put my degree up against yours as well.
    Have a good day!

  30. 34defense2014 - Aug 2, 2014 at 2:56 AM

    Doughty 1. Letang 2. Then there’s everyone else.

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