The Los Angeles Kings are an NHL team that has enjoyed much success during the 2010s. With two championships in 2012 and 2014, they definitely have given the sunny city of Los Angeles a lot to celebrate, especially when there are so many other teams in just Los Angeles alone.
Drew Doughty has been the backbone of the Kings defensive success. With three All-Star appearances, one Norris trophy, and two Stanley Cups under his belt, it's safe to say he has done a phenomenal job. He is right up there with the likes of Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns when talking about the elite d-men in the NHL.
However, his contract is coming close to the end, as he's set to be a UFA in the summer of 2019. Karlsson and Doughty will be free agents at the same time and will likely both be asking for similar contracts. Doughty himself said Karlsson will dictate his market: “I know I’m going to talk to Karlsson back and forth, kind of see what money he’s looking for,” Doughty said. “I’ll kind of look at what money I’m looking for. I don’t know if he’s going to re-sign with Ottawa. I don’t know if I’ll re-sign with L.A. You just never know what’s going to happen.”
Karlsson's already been asked to submit teams he'd accept a trade to and if Doughty and the Kings can't reach an extension this summer, he may be asked to do the same. If teams came calling for Doughty, who's under contract through next season at $7 million, which teams would he leave for?
15 Would: Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets are young and had a streak of 16 games unbeaten. They are definitely on the rise and have some good pieces in place. They have wingers Nick Foligno and Cam Atkinson to help in the goal scoring department along with a good goaltender in Sergei Bobrovsky. They also have a young, talented defense that just needs that veteran leadership to help the Jackets take the next step. Insert Drew Doughty into that space.
Doughty is only 28 years old, but a lot of the defensemen on the Blue Jackets are younger and show a lot of promise. Seth Jones is only 23 years old and is slowly asserting himself as one of the most underrated defensemen in the game. Along with guys like David Savard and Ryan Murray, the Blue Jackets look to be one piece away from truly contending. Trading for Drew Doughty could be that final piece that allows for the Blue Jackets to give the city of Columbus something to believe in.
14 Would Not: Arizona Coyotes
Much like many players in the NHL, the first team on Doughty's no-trade list would likele be the Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes are one of the worst teams in the NHL with no real direction. Being a winner for many years in Los Angeles, Doughty should avoid the Coyotes as much as possible.
The Coyotes do not have any big time names that stand out that would even have Arizona natives tune in to watch. The Coyotes have a few recognizable names in Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Alex Goligoski on defense, but that is about it. You never know what can happen in professional sports with trading, but if I'm Drew Doughty, I tell my agent to not even have Arizona in the picture in any capacity.
13 Would: Washington Capitals
This next team Drew Doughty should accept a trade to is an interesting one on the surface. But when it gets broken down, it could be the move this team has needed for a long time to get the playoff monkey off of their backs. That team is the Washington Capitals and Doughty should strongly consider going there for a number of reasons.
The first big reason is he would be playing next to the likes of Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Backstrom and Doughty together on a first line or power play line in the playoffs would cause a lot of problems for other teams. Second, he would be playing behind a fantastic goalie in Braden Holtby. Third, he brings something the Capitals do not possess: the knowledge and experience of winning big games. The issue for Washington would be, how would they fit him under the cap, but we've seen them get creative before in making cap space for short-term deals.
12 Would Not: Buffalo Sabres
One team that Doughty should try to avoid besides the Coyotes is the Buffalo Sabres. They do have a little bit more talent than the Coyotes, but not much. They have a rising star in Jack Eichel along with wingers Evander Kane (albeit rumored to be traded) and Kyle Okposo. They also have another center in Ryan O'Reilly that can be effective and give you 20-25 goals a season when healthy. But not even that is enough to have Doughty be begging for his agent to be on the phone getting him to Buffalo.
One of the underlying factors here would be the culture shock Doughty would experience. He would be going from winning a majority of the time in Los Angeles to being in a rebuilding situation with the Buffalo Sabres. Buffalo has had a long history of losing, just ask the Bills. But the Sabres are trying to get themselves to a contending level, they just will have to do it without Drew Doughty because there is no way he should go there even if he got one of the larger contracts the NHL had ever seen.
11 Would: Tampa Bay Lightning
Doughty would still be able to be in the sun and tan when he isn't playing hockey by playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning have top offensive pieces in place. Leading the way for the Lightning are wings Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat to go along with star center Steven Stamkos. Stamkos has gotten a bit unlucky with injuries, but still is one of the elite players in the NHL when healthy.
The main reason Doughty should consider playing with the Lightning is playing alongside Victor Hedman. Hedman has been one of the most consistent point contributors for defensemen. Like we mentioned before with Doughty and Backstrom, Doughty and Hedman would be another tenacious duo to try to deal with come playoff time. Much like Washington, Tampa is tight against the cap and would likely have to give up a significant piece. This is a move to make if Yzerman is all in for a Stanley Cup within the next two years.
10 Would Not: Anaheim Ducks
Not only would Doughty not want to join the Kings' fiercest rival, but there's no way the Kings would even entertain an offer for Doughty unless the Ducks were to sell the farm.
The Ducks obviously have their duo of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry who are untouchables and they have a deep pool of defensive prospects. The Ducks have some interesting pieces that would appeal to the Kings but this is a trade that just wouldn't work out for either side. For the Ducks to come up with a package the Kings would accept, they'd have to sacrifice their future. And for the Kings, they'd hate to see Doughty come back to haunt them in the short term.
9 Would: Chicago Blackhawks
During his time in the NHL, Drew Doughty has seen the Chicago Blackhawks lift the Stanley Cup trophy up three times in 2010, 2013, and 2015. With names like Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, and Corey Crawford leading the way, the Blackhawks can never be overlooked when discussing contenders. So would Doughty accept a trade to Chicago? Absolutely, no question about it!
The Blackhawks have the pieces to always compete in the Western Conference. Also, another key thing to remember is Duncan Keith is 34 years old. His prime is coming to an end quickly in Chicago before he knows it and a player like Drew Doughty can take over and be the backbone of the defensive pairings. The Hawks would have to clear some cap space and would likely have to offer one of their top stars to L.A. in return, but both teams have the pieces to make a trade work.
8 Would Not: Carolina Hurricanes
The Carolina Hurricanes are an interesting case here for Drew Doughty. He could be playing alongside one of the best defensemen in the league in Justin Faulk. That pairing would be one that could potentially help Carolina improve long-term. However, with a lack of production from the wings and centers on this Hurricanes team, that would be the deciding factor to basically say to Drew Doughty to not accept a trade to the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes did win a Stanley Cup in 2007. But that was simply a flash in the pan for Carolina. Their defense is also below the league averages in shots, power play goals, and power play chances. If the defense cannot convert on the power play, that shows that the Hurricanes have a lot of work to do before they can really be considering relevant. Drew Doughty will be doing himself a favor by staying away from the Hurricanes in any future trade talks that could occur.
7 Would: Boston Bruins
One of the most interesting teams that Drew Doughty could entertain the thought of playing for is the Boston Bruins. Not only does it look like a good short-term fit, it looks like a great fit for Doughty for the next 5-7 years. With the addition of Doughty, they could go back to their Stanley Cup contending ways.
The Bruins have two great goal scorers in Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, along with the steady Patrice Bergeron. They also have a few young defensemen in Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo who are 19 and 21, respectively. Zdeno Chara's contract is up this summer. Doughty could play alongside McAvoy and form a tandem that could dominate in Boston for the next five to seven years.
6 Would Not: New York Islanders
The Islanders have fared a little better than expected this season thanks to the breakout rookie season from Matthew Barzal and Josh Bailey having a career year (also being his contract year).
The Islanders already have to worry about re-signing John Tavares. Making a pitch to land Drew Doughty might give Tavares some extra incentive to stay in Brooklyn (soon to be relocated back to Long Island) but the Islanders don't have enough to offer the Kings without mortgaging their future. The Islanders still need some goaltending and landing Doughty would certainly upgrade their blue line, but could lead to other contractual problems. It's probably best the Isles take care of Tavares's deal first.
5 Would: Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs have not had a lot to cheer about over the past decade or so. But their fortunes changed in 2016 after drafting center Auston Matthews with the first overall pick. They also have a left winger in James Van Riemsdyk that helps out with production. The Maple Leafs haven't experienced any real playoff success in a long time. But maybe trading for Drew Doughty could help them, and he should definitely accept that trade.
The Maple Leafs have a decent mix of young production abut they need a true workhorse no.1 D at the blue line. That would be the role Doughty could serve. Sure, he could just jump onto a team like the Penguins to try to pursue another ring. But he could like the challenge of bringing a franchise that hasn't seen playoff success to bringing them to the promise land. And he could also be a savior for his hometown.
4 Would Not: Philadelphia Flyers
The Philadelphia Flyers are a team with some top pieces in place, but seem to be going nowhere this season and perhaps for seasons to come. They have Claude Giroux and a Wayne Simmonds that form a goal scoring duo that should be built around to form a powerhouse in the Metropolitan division. They also just drafted Nolan Patrick who's expected to eventually grow into a top contributor, but it hasn't happened yet.
With chasing all of the teams in that division, the Flyers do not seem to be the right fit for Doughty. They look like they are going into a rebuild of their young defense led by Shayne Gostisbehere. Doughty is too accustomed to winning to want to go to a rebuilding process. So if Philly calls Rob Blake, it's unlikely Doughty would accept the move.
3 Would: Nashville Predators
The Nashville Predators were the Cinderella team everybody loved during the 2016-17 season. They ventured their way through the Western Conference to meet with the mighty Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Final. Unfortunately, they fell just short of achieving the dream season, losing to the Penguins in six games. With all of this in mind, maybe Drew Doughty is thinking of taking his talents from California to Tennessee in the foreseeable future.
The Predators have a well balanced roster. Their strength is their newfound depth down the middle, with Ryan Johansen, Kyle Turris and Nick Bonino at center, but their identity will lies with their blue line. Their fab four of Roman Josi, P.K. Subban, Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm is the top defensive group in the league and that's who L.A. would be asking for in a deal for Doughty. Would the Preds be willing to go as far as giving up the likes of the right handed Ellis or Subban to get Doughty, who's only signed through 2019? Who knows, but Doughty sure wouldn't mind slotting in next to Josi.
2 Would Not: Florida Panthers
The last team on this list that Drew Doughty should not accept a team from is the Florida Panthers. They are a team that is also dealing with another team in their state as well in the Tampa Bay Lightning. Doughty would be much more likely to go to Tampa Bay as opposed to going to play for the Florida Panthers. There are a lot of holes and question marks that fill up with this roster.
Their goalies are very suspect at best. Roberto Luongo's best days are behind him. He is now 38 years old and will be out of the league within the next few years. James Reimer is not a good alternative either. Florida has a very young defense too with only one blue liner over the age of 30. Doughty may like warm weather, but he won't like it that much if he doesn't get to the playoffs which would happen with the Panthers. Then again, maybe he would like getting out on the golf course a little earlier than usual. Who knows?
1 Would: Edmonton Oilers
The last team that Drew Doughty should consider accepting a trade to is none other than the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers have made tremendous strides within the past few seasons with superstar Connor McDavid coming into his own. Besides McDavid, they have Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. This would be an interesting trade option for Drew Doughty to pursue.
The Oilers have been lacking that go-to horse on the blue line who can play 30 minutes a night and carry the Oilers through a playoff run. Yes, they need better goaltending, but having a true no.1 in Doughty would likely turn the Oilers around in a hurry. And hey, if it doesn't work, Doughty can always leave in 2019's free agency period.