File this under ‘What else would you expect?’
L.A. Kings general manager Dean Lombardi has firmly entrenched himself in the camp of Drew Doughty for the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman, and, based on the reports, he made an impassioned pitch as to why he is so steadfast in this belief.
Of course, the 26-year-old Doughty is up against a host of good blue liners in the NHL. None better than Senators star Erik Karlsson. All Karlsson, the reigning Norris winner and front runner for the award in 2016, did this season was lead the league in assists with 66 and was tied for fourth in league scoring with 82 points, playing just under 29 minutes a game to lead the NHL.
Doughty was third in the league in ice time, at 28:01, during the regular season. He had 51 points in 82 games, and almost half of his points were on the power play.
Both Karlsson and Doughty were strong possession players at five-on-five, with Doughty posting a 58.9 per cent Corsi For rating, as per War-on-Ice, on a Kings team that dominates in this element of the game.
Doughty’s had a rating of 0.6 points per 60 minutes, while Karlsson hit a staggering 1.6 points per 60 minutes.
Lombardi’s main message was to look beyond the statistics.
“It’s not the highlight-film position. It’s not supposed to be, and then we turned it (into one) because (of) Paul Coffey,” Lombardi said, as per L.A. Daily News. “I guess, he pulled it off. But at least Paul Coffey was in the playoffs. And this stuff that (Doughty) plays for a better team?
“How good do you think we are without him? How about the other way around?”
Yes, the Senators did not make the playoffs and, as a result, the fallout has been swift. The Kings are Stanley Cup contenders, though getting out of the first round against the San Jose Sharks will be quite a challenge.
Although, it really is hard to look past the season that Karlsson put together.
It’s the first time a defenceman has finished in the top five of league scoring in 30 years, since Edmonton’s Paul Coffey was third with 138 points in the 1985-86 season. Karlsson is only the fifth blue-liner in league history to achieve the feat.
No blue-liner had reached 80 points since Hall of Famer Nicklas Lidstrom racked up that many with the Detroit Red Wings in 2005-06, while Brian Leetch recorded 85 points with the 1995-96 New York Rangers.