Free Agency 2019: Drew Doughty

This past week the rumor mill was red hot after comments made by Drew Doughty about his pending free agency hit the NHL and social media by storm. Doughty openly discussed that he should earn more than P.K. Subban; Doughty also shared that he feels that he and fellow 2019 UFA standout Erik Karlsson should discuss strategy before possibly hitting the open market, and he also mentioned how much he respects Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock.

Where does one begin? Doughty openly admitted players speak before free agency. This not a real shocker as this had been rumoured to happen but for the NHL where players give their scripted answers on everything this was explosive in its honesty. His feelings that he and Karlsson deserve more money than P.K. Subban couldn’t have earned him any points at least from Subban’s camp. But if we take what both players have done in the NHL and on the international level one can’t argue he is too far off.

If you are the Ottawa Senators, does this mean their marquee player in Erik Karlsson would consider leaving to a bigger market for more money? Ottawa can ill afford to let Karlsson walk, the fanbase would turn on this management group for letting that happen. But Ottawa itself has some key signings as well over the next two years which have big cap ramifications for them, these comments don’t help in their negotiations with Karlsson or any of their upcoming free agents. Ottawa has operated under some tight budget constraints, signing Karlsson to market value may mean that the Senators will lose some of their other free agents to keep Karlsson in the fold.

What do his comments on Mike Babcock and the Maple Leafs mean? Does Doughty feel signing in Toronto and playing under Mike Babcock that he could a win another cup in a shorter window than he could with his current team the L.A. Kings? One can’t deny that a roster with Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Mitch Marner, Morgan Reilly and Fredrik Andersen is closer to hoisting a cup as it ever has been. It would be exciting to see what impact the addition of Drew Doughty to this already potent offence would have to improving the Maple Leafs Stanley Cup chances.

Plans for free agency this offseason and next from a Maple Leafs perspective would be altered drastically if Doughty is serious about moving on from L.A. in 2019. Toronto already has its concerns with contracts to Matthews, Marner and Nylander all coming up in the next couple of summers. Players like James Van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, Leo Komarov could become victims of the salary cap crunch should they not be willing to take a pay cut to stay.  As money for the big three will need to be freed up, and sign Doughty in 2019.

Or does GM Lou Lamoriello smell blood in the water currently and can he orchestrate a trade for Doughty if L.A. feels Doughty might walk in 2019? If there is a trade to be had James Van Riemsdyk, Kasperi Kapanen, Connor Brown, and a mix of prospects and picks might be options that could commence possible trade discussions between the teams.

One interview in its explosiveness in nature has rocked the hockey markets in L.A., Nashville, Toronto and Ottawa.  L.A. and Ottawa have to be worried that their marquee players are thinking of hitting the open market in 2019. There would be teams lining up to sign one of these defencemen, the competition and salary discussed to sign these all-stars will be through the roof and would L.A. and Ottawa have the cap space and budget to resign their stars?

If you are Toronto, it comes with great excitement that a player of Doughty’s status sees Toronto as a viable option and how much would playing for Mike Babcock again play into his decision in signing in Toronto. If you are the Nashville Predators and P.K. Subban, are you impressed that salary was even brought up and what kind of a distraction is this for team and player in Nashville? More will be written throughout the season if Doughty doesn’t back pedal from this interview and rumors will really heat up as we get closer to the summer of 2019 if his contract status remain up in the air.