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On the 'D'-fence: Don't doubt Doughty

Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 12:24 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

By Brian Metzer - NHL.com Correspondent

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On the 'D'-fence: Don't doubt Doughty
A holdout and shoulder injury contributed to a slow start for the fourth-year defenseman, but NHL.com's expert says that's no reason to panic if he's part of your fantasy plan for this season.
Every Tuesday during the season, NHL.com Correspondent Brian Metzer will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy defensemen in our weekly segment: "On the 'D'-fence." From updated defensemen rankings to guys you should keep a close eye on and much more, Metzer will be your fantasy d-man expert all season long.

When the Los Angeles Kings selected Drew Doughty with the second pick in the 2008 NHL Draft, they knew they were getting themselves a great player. Doughty played in the League that first season, netting 6 goals and 27 points and putting himself squarely on the radar of every fantasy owner from here to Zanzibar.

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These modified re-rankings are based on expectations of the season going forward (including injuries). The plus or minus for each player is movement based on our most recent rankings from last week. (NR means not ranked in previous rankings.)
Expectations were high heading into year two and the young blueliner exploded with a season that even the most grizzled NHL veteran would have killed for. Doughty posted 16 goals and 59 points, 142 shots on goal, and 31 power-play points. He even managed to register a plus-20, which showed his strong play on both ends of the puck, and was selected as a finalist for the Norris Trophy.
 
Unfortunately for Doughty, another step forward in year three was expected and anything less was abject failure -- at least according to the many owners who made him one of the first defensemen off the board in 2010. As of Dec. 11, Doughty found himself with just 7 points through his team's first 21 games, and owners were cutting bait. The fact he went on to finish that season with 11 goals and 40 points, 15 of which came with the extra man, is a tribute to his offensive prowess and kept him ranked high heading into this season.

Doughty's season began with plenty of questions, as he was embroiled in a contract dispute with the Kings. He eventually signed, but the holdout caused him to miss the entire preseason. The holdout, combined with missing five games due to a shoulder injury, contributed to a less-than-spectacular October which had many panicking about their prized defenseman again.

Enter November, where Doughty has started to round into form with 2 goals and 5 points in six games. He is also getting back to playing his customary 25-plus minutes per night, which includes 4:10 on the power play.

"I felt really good the first couple of games,” Doughty told Jim Jamieson of The Province in British Columbia recently. "Then the injury came and I was a little slow to come back, but I feel better now. I'm getting my legs under me. I'm starting to play a few more minutes again. Once I'm playing a lot of minutes I'm into the game and I play my best."

Though he isn't quite matching the production of his breakout season, he is still producing .58 points per game, which would be good for 48 points across an entire season. He has launched 21 shots on goal, has posted 5 power-play points and has registered a minus-1, which is sure to improve. Overall his 12-game production would have placed him in the top-six scorers at his position through their first dozen games.

Now would be the time to look into acquiring Doughty, as his production could be trending further upward. He has yet to see his 22nd birthday and is already in his fourth NHL season -- it is only a matter of time before he puts it all together again. Never doubt Doughty.

TRENDING UPWARD

Nick Leddy -- Folks have been chirping about Leddy for several weeks and it is definitely time to take notice of what this youngster is doing for the Hawks. Leddy is skating 20-plus minutes per game, leading his team with 27 on Sunday against the Oilers. He has posted 2 goals and 12 points in his 18 games and is averaging over a shot per game. The Minnesota native is owned in only 18 percent of Yahoo standard leagues, a number that is sure to grow. Make sure that you are amongst the lucky ones to jump on the Leddy express, as he has only gotten better as the weeks have gone by.

Niklas Kronwall -- We have been waving the Kronwall flag since the preseason, when it looked like he may be in line to pick up Brian Rafalski's power-play time, and the waving continues today. With Ian White out with a fractured cheekbone, Kronwall's opportunities for offensive production should expand; mix in the fact that he has points in five consecutive games (3G-2A) and you have a recipe for waiver wire gold.

Cam Fowler -- Though we just downgraded the Ducks' defense one week ago, an injury to Lubomir Visnovsky that will keep him out a month could open the door for Fowler to make an impact. Fowler scored his first two goals of the season on Sunday against the Wild, ironically the team's first without Visnovsky. Fowler is playing big minutes and should get ample opportunities with the talented group of forwards that the Ducks have.

TRENDING DOWNWARD

Tyler Myers -- Myers was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career last night against the Montreal Canadiens. That alone wouldn't be a reason to place him on this list, but when combined with the fact that he has just 4 assists in 16 games this season and is a minus-6 in his last four games, we have to take notice. Myers is still quite young and will eventually turn things around -- how could he not? But until that time comes look elsewhere.

Corey Potter -- For as good as October was to Potter, November has been equally bad. He posted 2 goals and 8 points through his first 10 games, but has since been held scoreless in his last five games. He has also registered an unappetizing minus-5 in his last three games. He is still averaging 20:34 of ice time and 3:22 with the extra man, but other options should be considered.

Yannick Weber -- Weber was an early season fantasy darling, but that has changed in a big way. He has yet to notch a point in six November games and has registered a minus-6 in his last five. Weber is still a bit of an intriguing asset as he occasionally skates as a forward, but there are far better alternatives at this point.

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Jamie McBain -- Jeff Skinner wasn't the only talented rookie in Carolina last season, as McBain had a breakout year, notching 7 goals and 30 points in 76 games. Unfortunately for McBain, that production didn't carry over into the early part of this season. He actually found himself out of the lineup on Nov. 6, but has looked better as of late. McBain has notched 2 assists in four games since his scratch and is averaging over 20 minutes per game. Keep an eye on him, as he could be regaining his confidence of one year ago.
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