2014 Season Review: Drew Doughty

Thearon W. Henderson

dCorsi Table


Drew Doughty Corsi, 2008-2014

Year Corsi Relative Corsi On Expected Corsi dCorsi
2008-09 -3.6 -1.14 0.92 -2.06
2009-10 5.5 4.89 1.38 3.51
2010-11 9.1 9.27 3.18 6.09
2011-12 1.5 11.45 9.53 1.92
2012-13 3.5 14.84 12.98 1.86
2013-14 4.9 17.34 15.64 1.70

This table expresses Corsi as a rate stat; the numbers represent on-ice shot differential per 60 minutes (i.e., in 2013-14 the Kings attempted 17.34 more shots/60 than their opponents when Doughty was on the ice). Corsi On is just raw on-ice shot differential. A player's Expected Corsi is calculated based on the difficulty of their minutes, factoring in zone starts, quality of competition, and quality of teammates (you can read about the formula here). That number is then compared to how the player actually did, and the difference is dCorsi. I also included Corsi Relative (on-ice Corsi minus off-ice Corsi) if you prefer that to dCorsi. Except in cases of extreme deployment, the two are going to be similar.

Positives

Drew Doughty has a long track record of being a good possession player. He's driven play in the right direction every season since 2009-10. He's done that while playing a huge number of minutes; his 25:42 TOI/game this year was 7th in the league. Doughty must deal with more fatigue, over the course of both individual games and the entire season, than all but a handful of players. To post good Corsis year after year under those circumstances is impressive.

The Doughty-Muzzin pairing posted the highest Corsi% of any defensive pairing in the league this year. Doughty does much better with Muzzin than with other partners:

Doughty Corsi% by Partner, 2011-2014

TOI Corsi%
With Muzzin 1288 60.6
With Scuderi 1182 54.6
With Regehr 488 53.6
With Mitchell 411 56.5
With Martinez 100 58.5

The idea that Doughty needs a stay-at-home partner is clearly wrong.

Doughty logged the most 5v4 minute on the Kings. The power play was about equally good at generating shots with and without Doughty (24.83 with, 24.54 without), but did score goals at a much higher rate with Doughty on the ice thanks to good shooting luck in that situation. That seems like randomness to me, so I can't say I'm wowed by Doughty's work on what was not an exceptional power play unit. He was very effective on the penalty kill, allowing shots and Fenwicks against at the lowest rate of all Kings defensemen.

Doughty's zone entry numbers are eye-popping, easily the most spectacular of any King. His 10.58 entries/60 led all Kings defenseman (and nearly doubles Robyn Regehr's rate), but what's really impressive is that Doughty carried the puck in on 59.59% of his entries. A carry-in rate of 60% is very good for a forward; it's just obscene for a defenseman. Doughty somehow managed that while rarely turning the puck over at the blue line (just a 15.12% failed entry rate). He's absurdly talented.

Negatives

37 points in 78 games seems, and is, not that exceptional for an elite defenseman. At 5v5 Doughty produced points at the 138th highest rate among the 200 NHL defenseman with at least 500 minutes. That's lower than guys like Mike Weaver and Brooks Orpik.

But I don't think people should care that much. For starters, Doughty's point total was unlucky. He only recorded a point on 24.1% of the goals they scored in that situation. That should regress back to his career average of 31.5% and get him another 4 or 5 even strength points next year.

More importantly, points are just not a very useful statistic for evaluating defenseman. In contrast to forwards, for defensemen individual point total and team goalscoring are not tightly correlated. I mentioned that Doughty produced points at the 138th highest rate among defenseman, but the Kings scored goals at the 85th highest rate with him on the ice. They attempted shots and Corsis at even higher rates (38th and 9th) and obviously excelled defensively with Doughty on the ice. All that is far more important than his point total.

Doughty's Corsi numbers, once adjusted for team quality, haven't been quite as amazing the past three years as they were from 2009-2011. Some of this is the result of ill-fated attempts to pair him with Robyn Regehr and an aging Rob Scuderi, which are thankfully over. Still, I think the possession numbers suggest that the Kings have become an elite hockey team over the last three years by improving the talent around their star defenseman, rather than by Doughty's own growth.

Highlight

Doughty celebrates a playoff OT winner as only he can.

Roman Emperor Comparable: Valentinian I

Valentinian (ruled 364-375) was an army officer in the right place at the right time when the sitting emperor Jovian unexpectedly died. The only person near the imperial court with an army, Valentinian was hurriedly declared emperor to fill the power vacuum. He ruled during an age of constant foreign invasion and internal rebellion, yet for the most part managed to stabilize the western half of the empire during his decade in power. His policy towards the common people was generally one of tax cuts and religious toleration, although he was brutally harsh towards barbarians beyond the frontier.

Valentinian is most remembered, though, for his temper. This proved his undoing when an embassy of the Quadi, a defeated German tribe, came to ask for peace terms. Unfortunately, the ambassadors had the audacity to criticize Valentinian's policy of building permanent Roman bases in Quadi territory. Valentinian began screaming furiously at this insolence. After a few minutes he had worked himself into such an uncontrollable rage that he ruptured a blood vessel in his brain and died.

Drew Doughty is also known for his outbursts. Let us hope he does not meet a similar fate.

Going Forward

Doughty's contract runs five more seasons at a team-friendly $7 million. He's still just 24. I bet we have yet to see his best.

Grade

I think Doughty might score more and do better Corsi-wise next year, but he was still an excellent top-pairing defenseman in 2013-14. A.

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