Drew Doughty

Kopitar: Doughty is Kings’ Nicklas Lidstrom


It’s a distant memory now, but the Los Angeles Kings went six straight seasons without a playoff berth until they snapped that drought in 2010. At their low-point, they took Drew Doughty with the second overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

Doughty quickly established himself as a top-tier defenseman and soon the Kings became one of the league’s most dangerous franchises.

“I’ve been saying this a couple years now, he’s our Nick Lidstrom,” Kings forward Anze Kopitar said, per LA Kings Insider. “We all know what he did in Detroit for many, many years. I think Drew likes the big stage, obviously. He likes these types of games. He gets very emotional.

“I guess if you draw a line underneath that, he just brings his game to the next level at this time of year and these type of games.”

Doughty logged a team-high 27:29 minutes in the Kings’ 6-2 victory over Chicago in Game 2 last night. That’s on par with the amount of playing time he’s been getting throughout the playoffs.

He wasn’t the Kings’ hero last night and he similarly hasn’t single-handily reversed the team’s fortunes. He’s got a great group around of him, but then, the same could have been said of Lidstrom throughout his 20-season career. Lidstrom never missed the postseason and he couldn’t have done that without the likes of Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan, and Pavel Datsyuk on his side.

But Lidstrom was the constant in that equation. He was the foundation of their defense and arguably their team. It’s not fair to compare a 24-year-old to a seven-time Norris Trophy winner, but in Doughty, the Kings have a guy that they can build around for many years to come.

Oilers go captain-less, name four alternates instead

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Edmonton’s made a fairly significant shift in its leadership group.

The big news is the Oilers won’t have a captain this season, as Andrew Ference will relinquish the “C” he’s worn for the last two years.

Ference will, however, remain part of the group and wear an “A” as part of a four-man alternate captain collective, one that also includes Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall.

The news of Ference being removed as captain doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The veteran d-man is a well-respected leader, but isn’t expected to be in the lineup every night this season.

The decision to go without a captain, though, is something of a surprise, especially given what new head coach Todd McLellan endured during his final season in San Jose.

The Sharks’ captaincy issue — stripping Joe Thornton, then going with four rotating alternates — was an ongoing problem, something that players, coaches and GM Doug Wilson had to repeatedly address until it blew up in spectacular fashion.

That said, the circumstances in Edmonton are quite different.

It’s believed the club’s intentionally keeping the captaincy vacant, on the assumption that Connor McDavid will evolve into a superstar and the club’s unquestioned leader.

Finally, McLellan noted that with Eberle currently sidelined, a fifth Oiler would be added to the leadership group — veteran forward Matt Hendricks, who will serve as a temporary alternate.

Brandon Sutter didn’t have the greatest preseason

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When Brandon Sutter was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks, GM Jim Benning called the 26-year-old a “foundation piece for our group going forward.”

Sutter was quickly signed to a five-year extension worth almost $22 million, more evidence of how highly management thought of the player.

Fast forward to yesterday, when Benning was asked the following question:

“What does it say that you made the trade for Sutter, you called him a ‘foundation’ player, and it took him until the final night of the preseason to find a spot (with the Sedins) on the wing, which isn’t his natural position?”

Here was Benning’s response:

“Well, [head coach Willie Desjardins] wants to try that out, he thinks that’s going to be a good fit. At various times, the Sedins played with wingers with speed, with [Ryan Kesler], who could get in on the forecheck and had a good shot. Sutter brings some of those qualities, too.”

While all that may be true, Sutter was not signed to play the wing; he was brought in to play center, specifically on the second line. He finished the preseason with zero points in five games. And as mentioned, he’ll start the season on the wing, not his natural position.

Meanwhile, youngsters Bo Horvat, 20, and Jared McCann, 19, had outstanding camps and are expected to start the regular season (tonight in Calgary) centering the second and third lines, respectively.

Though Sutter did finish the preseason with 12 shots on goal, up there with the most on the Canucks, it’s fair to say he did not look like a “foundation” player.

“I haven’t seen him play his best,” Desjardins said last week. “I see a guy who’s big and a good skater and who understands the game real well, but just hasn’t got that involved.”

Now, we are only talking about the preseason here. New players often take time to get comfortable. Perhaps playing with the Sedins can provide Sutter with some confidence.

“I know he’ll be there and I totally believe that,” said Desjardins.

But it hasn’t been the best start, and if it wasn’t for the encouraging play of the youngsters, it would be a far bigger story in Vancouver.

Related: Canucks roll the dice on rookies, waive Vey and Corrado