Building a playoff team from scratch? No doubt you take Drew Doughty first

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(Editor’s Note: In our Playoff Preview edition of the THN magazine, we asked the question, “Who Would You Take” if you were a GM and were building a team from scratch to win in the playoffs? Most said Sidney Crosby, but three THN writers had another opinion. Below you’ll read why Ryan Kennedy would build his team around Drew Doughty. Also check out Rory Boylen’s column on Steve Stamkos and Adam Proteau’s on Jonathan Toews)

In a very short period of time, Drew Doughty has become one of the best and most well-rounded defensemen in the world. Never mind the fact he was Canada’s best player at the Sochi Olympics, never mind the fact he has a Stanley Cup championship ring and another gold medal from 2010 to go along with that triumph, just look at the visceral evidence.

For example, ask Washington Capitals star Nicklas Backstrom how he felt when his 6-foot-1, 213-pound frame was hoisted into the air by a Doughty hit in a recent tilt, then unceremoniously dropped from a fair height. Simply put, the Los Angeles Kings’ blueliner can hurt the opposition in every manner possible and that’s why I would want him as the headline player on my team if I were shooting for a title.

At just 24, Doughty has already racked up an array of championships that has him looking like a nastier version of Scott Niedermayer, who is now employed just down the road in Anaheim. The fact Doughty played for a mediocre Guelph team in junior means he’ll never have the Memorial Cup Niedermayer earned in Kamloops, but the young Kings star did get his World Junior Championship gold medal in 2008 and it’s only a matter of time before Doughty’s name is etched into the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman.

As a crunch time performer, Doughty elevates his game. No matter how big his workload is during the regular season, he has always averaged more ice time in the playoffs and if his recent Olympic performance is any indication, he’s not slowing down. Doughty had more goals for Canada (four) than his nation surrendered in the whole tournament (three).

His dashes from the blueline have been lethal since his major junior days and playing against stronger competition hasn’t slowed him down. Doughty is an offensive catalyst who can give his blueline peers on the other team fits because they have to respect the fact he will march the puck all the way to the net if they’re not careful.

And because he can also shut down opposing forwards in his own end, I want Doughty as the primary figure on my team when there’s a trophy on the line.