Drew Doughty Trending Toward Becoming the NHL’s Best Defenseman

Drew Doughty is not the best defenseman in the NHL. 

That doesn't mean we aren't currently watching his ascension to that spot.

It's easy to lose track of the fact that Doughty is still just 24 years old and has yet to fully realize his potential. One glimpse of the London, Ontario, native during these or, really, any of his past three performances in the Stanley Cup playoffs makes it plain to see that he has every tool required to be the best on the blue line.

“I want to be the best defenseman in the world without a doubt,” Doughty said. 

In terms of career arc, Doughty is on a path that is not all that dissimilar from that of Scott Niedermayer.

Both were 19 years old in their first full NHL season. They have nearly the same build (both are 6'1"; Doughty at 210 is about 10 pounds heavier). Doughty was drafted second overall; Niedermayer was selected with the third pick. Both players possess speed, vision and have the ability to be offensive forces from the blue line, although Doughty brings more of a physical game while Niedermayer's skating ability was nearly unrivaled in his day.

The biggest thing they have in common is the systems in which they play. The New Jersey Devils were legendary for their defense-first, lockdown style, and while the Los Angeles Kings aren't looking to trap teams into oblivion, a free-wheeling offensive defenseman isn't a requirement to win, either.

To watch both players in their primes, it's clear that each could do more offensively. But both rarely depart from the structure that make their teams great, but when they did, it led to highlight-reel goals. Just watch Doughty pick apart Derek Dorsett and Henrik Lundqvist in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday or Niedermayer gut the Detroit Red Wings with an end-to-end rush in Game 2 of the 1995 Final. 

Yet early in their careers, both D...

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