• Joins Karlsson as part of mega 2019 UFA class for defencemen
• Believes he and Senators captain should be highest-paid blueliners
• How trust of Mike Babcock piques interest in Maple Leafs
It’s not often you’ll hear an NHL player speak candidly about upcoming contract negotiations and his thought process behind them, but that’s exactly what Drew Doughty is doing.
“I’ve thought about it actually lately, I don’t know why,” the Los Angeles Kings star blueliner told Craig Custance of The Athletic. “I kind of just thought about my options and stuff like that. I never know what’s going to happen.”
Doughty is slated to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2018-19 season once the eight-year, $56-million deal he signed in 2011 expires.
The 27-year-old is eligible to sign an extension with L.A. on July 1, 2018 and the Kings would be the only team he could ink an eight-year deal with. If he were to hit the open market, the longest contract he could sign with a new team would be for seven years.
“I don’t know if (Karlsson’s) going to re-sign with Ottawa. I don’t know if I’ll re-sign with L.A.”
Before making a decision on his future the 2016 Norris Trophy winner and two-time Stanley Cup champion plans on reaching out to one of his elite contemporaries, Erik Karlsson, for counsel. The Ottawa Senators captain’s contract expires when Doughty’s does.
“I know I’m going to talk to Karlsson back and forth, kind of see what money he’s looking for,” Doughty explained. “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.”
In addition to Doughty and Karlsson, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Ryan Ellis, Tyler Myers, Ryan McDonagh and Nate Schmidt are all eligible to potentially join what could be a defence-rich free agent class in the summer of 2019.
It’s safe to assume both Doughty and Karlsson will remain amongst the highest-paid defencemen in the league whenever and wherever they sign their next contracts and, based on credentials, they may just rank one-two when all the ink is dry.
Doughty’s current cap hit of $7 million is tied for the sixth-highest in the league among defencemen, while Karlsson’s $6.5 million is tied for 11th. P.K. Subban, a one-time Norris winner like Doughty, is the NHL’s top-paid defenceman in terms of cap hit at the moment. Subban’s average annual value of $9 million could potentially be a starting point for Doughty’s and Karlsson’s respective negotiations and Doughty admits as much.
“Right now, I guess we’d be gauging off what P.K. makes. I think both of us deserve quite a bit more than that,” Doughty said.
Something to get Maple Leafs fans riled up …
The closer Doughty gets to UFA status, the more you’ll hear Toronto Maple Leafs rumoured as a potential landing spot for the London, Ont., native.
“Growing up, watching them every single time, it’s hard to say you’d never want to play for the Leafs,” Doughty said.
As a two-time Olympic gold medallist, Doughty has become quite familiar with Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock over the years thanks to their frequent success as members of Team Canada.
“Oh f—, yeah. Babs. I like Babs, too,” Doughty added. “He’s put full trust in me since I was 19 years old at the Olympics. I remember, I’ll never forget. I showed up at the Olympics, he said, ‘Douts, you’re going to start off as the seventh D. The better you play, the more you’re going to play.’ I ended up playing third- or fourth-most minutes. He trusted me from day one. He still has full trust in me.”