Making the Case: Doughty vs. Hedman for the Norris Trophy

Who truly is the best defenseman in the National Hockey League?

Sure, that’s a topic subject to much debate. That much we can easily agree upon.

And I’ll freely admit, in my opinion, Drew Doughty is the best. It’s an open and shut case, in fact. However, as somebody who has covered the Los Angeles Kings for years, making a statement like that can easily open me up to criticism. Detractors will quickly label that a form of homerism – even though ardent readers here would likely say our comments and analysis don’t resemble anything close to that notion.

Still, following this morning’s announcement of The Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (PHWA) Midseason Award “winners,” this topic felt worthy of a quick review.

Yes, I listed Drew Doughty No. 1 on my Norris Trophy midseason ballot. He finished second to Victor Hedman.

Normally that wouldn’t be a big issue.

What escalated my thinking today was the fact Hedman secured 63 first place votes, while Doughty received only 44.

Does that seem appropriate?

Clearly there isn’t an issue with Hedman. I listed him second on my ballot.

Last season, Hedman finished third in Norris voting (behind Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson). The year prior, Doughty, a multi-time nominee, took home the hardware handed out annually to the league’s best defenseman.

So, let’s jump into the debate.

Hedman is one of the key reasons for Tampa Bay’s success thus far this season, where they currently lead the Eastern Conference. You could even draw a correlation to Hedman being out recently and the Lightning cooling off during that stretch.

Doughty has a poise to his game and has done it on the biggest of stages. Hedman has not been as dominant when playing in similar situations. Doughty will make the glaring mistake, but moments later make the game breaking play. Hedman does get hurt occasionally and does not play as physical.

Hedman plays less on emotion, more like a very calculated machine. Doughty occasionally has too much emotion.

Numbers-wise, Doughty leads the league in average ice time, playing 27:14 per night. That’s roughly 1:40 more per game, which equates to 4-5 shifts more per game.

Despite the lack of help from the LA Kings lineup, Doughty is having an up year, offensively speaking, compared to the last few. The two-time Cup winner has four game-winning-goals to Hedman’s one. Overall, he has put up 34 points in 49 games, a pace slightly behind Hedman’s 33 points in 44 games. Again, though, the latter is surrounded by more offensive firepower, helping drive up his numbers. Simply look at the some of the top scorers in the league – Kucherov and Stamkos come to mind – they’re Hedman’s teammates.

Maybe this is near a dead-heat for some.

On the defensive side, Doughty has 71 blocked shots, compared with 58 from Hedman.

And how about this new award The PHWA came up with, the Rod Langway Award. While not an officially recognized award, it was meant to honor the league’s top Defensive Defensemen – somebody who may not put up great offensive numbers, but is tremendous at his job.

Doughty placed tops among all blueliners according to the 150 PHWA writers who voted, Hedman finished third.

[NOTE: I put Doughty fourth on my ballot for the Langway. Reason being, in my mind, if you’re creating an award to recognize guys who wouldn’t normally be part of the Norris talk, I felt three other names should get my votes. Fearing that not everybody would think like I do – which is what happened, as Doughty and Hedman finished in the top three for both awards, I put a little insurance on my ballot by listing Doughty fourth for the Langway.]

Hedman has a great team around him that can win games without him.

You can’t say the same thing about about Doughty.

The man who finished second is the best player in the NHL. He should have finished first.

RELATED CONTENT:

Mayor’s Minutes on NHL Radio: Carter, Quick, Stopping the Kings Bleeding

Instagram

Note to webmasters/reporters: When recapping news or interviews from this site please remember to include a link to www.MayorsManor.com

Recent Articles

This Date in LA Kings History: September 27

Happy birthday to former @LAKings forward Paul Mulvey, who was born on September 27, 1958.#LAKings #GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/5Xqq2uWNfg
— The Kingstorian (@Kingstorian) September 27, 2020

Happy birthday to former @LAKings defenseman Rene Chapdelaine, who was born on September 27, 1966.#LAKings #GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/5TInez0ubr
— The Kingstorian (@Kingstorian) September 27, 2020

Happy birthday to former @LAKings forward Jeff Cowan, who was born […]

Kings Of the Podcast: Ep. Q15 with Mike Hammer of Violent Gentlemen

Kings of the Podcast has returned for another new episode. This time around, the guys are joined by Mike Hammer of Violent Gentlemen.
Topics discussed:
– Quarantine life
– Trevor Lewis and Kyle Clifford going to Free Agency
– Bobby Ryan to LA
– Matt Luff contract update
– Stanley Cup Final: Dallas Stars vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
– Corey Perry, Joe […]

This Date in LA Kings History: September 26

Happy birthday to former @LAKings forward Nick Shore, who was born on September 26, 1992.#LAKings #GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/FkGAAt4kYZ
— The Kingstorian (@Kingstorian) September 26, 2020

On September 26, 2007, Anze Kopitar scored with 46 seconds remaining in regulation to give the @LAKings a 4-3 win over Farjestad BK of the Swedish Hockey League. The win crowned the #LAKings […]

Major News Items

2020 NHL Draft Preview: Ryan O’Rourke, OHL Defenseman

In a previous article, we examined a player the Kings could be targeting for their second selection at the 2020 NHL Draft - meaning, after they take somebody in the No. 2 overall position. For context, MayorsManor editor … [Read More...]

More Prospect News

About John Hoven

John Hoven is a member of the of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and co-hosts Kings of the Podcast. He is also the founder and editor of MayorsManor.com, which has been named Best Sports Blog in Los Angeles by LA Weekly and Hockey Blog of the Year by Yahoo Sports. Click "ABOUT OUR TEAM" above for a full bio.