So far this season, defenseman Drew Doughty has worn four different sweaters and will bump that to number five Wednesday night when he pulls on the CHL Top Prospects Game garb here in Edmonton. Doughty season began with the Super Series, continued with Team OHL in the ADT Canada-Russia Challenge, advanced through a gold-medal performance at the 2008 World Junior Championship and then of course there is his Guelph Storm.
Few players in this showcase event have received as much publicity this year as Doughty and in fact it’s clear to see that the 18-year-old is on a different comfort level with the media than most of the other participants currently in Edmonton.
The London native already has an impressive bio to his credit. A fifth-round choice of the Storm in 2005, selection as the top defenseman at the 2008 WJC, a 2007 OHL All-Star nod, named to both the OHL and CHL All-rookie team in 2006 and has a midget silver medal on his mantle as well.
Hockey’s Future was able to speak with Doughty on Monday night.
HF: Looking back at the start of the season and at what your expectations were for this year, I have to assume you’ve achieved all the goals that you possibly could have set out for thus far.
DD: I just really wanted to come into Guelph this year and I really wanted us to be a better team so I was just doing everything I could to help the team out. I want to play my offensive game and help get some points and that kind of stuff but I also wanted to play a defensive game and be shutting down the other team’s best line. That’s something that I really wasn’t too good at in my first two years, shutting down the other team, so this year that was one of my main focuses coming in. One of my personal goals was to obviously get invited to the WJ camp and making that team and so doing that and then winning the gold was pretty unbelievable.
HF: You also had a chance to play in the ADT Challenge game as well.
DD: That was a good stepping stone towards the WJ. Playing in the Super Series I kind of had a feel as to how the Russians play so that also helped me out. I thought I played pretty decent in those games so I think that helped me get to the World Junior camp for sure.
HF: There’s been a lot of travel for you this year; to Russia, back home, then to Prague and now out west here. Are you getting tired?
DD: No, I’m not getting too tired I don’t think. My coaches in Guleph have given me tons of time off. When I got back from the Super Series and the WJ they gave me time off to rest at home and I that was key I think because I’ve probably played a lot more games than a lot of the other guys have due to the tournaments. I’m not getting tired because it’s fun to travel there and to see those other countries.
HF: Are you happy with the way you’ve played this year, not just for Guelph but for Canada and in the ADT games?
DD: Yeah I think I’ve played pretty decently. I can always improve my game and whatnot, but I think that with Guelph I’ve played pretty decent, maybe not my very, very best but I think that I’ve been doing a lot better now and that playing in the WJ’s gave me a confidence boost and I think that I can take that back with me into Guelph.
HF: One of the things that people recognize from Drew Doughty is the big shot. Are you the favorite to win the hardest shot competition this week?
DD: (laughs) I don’t know about the hardest shot there, my shot isn’t too hard I don’t think. What I really work on in practice is getting it through and on net. I wouldn’t say that I have the hardest shot, I don’t even know if I have the hardest shot on my team but I try to work on it as much as I can.
HF: Well if it’s not your shot, what would you say is the best asset that you bring to the table?
DD: I would think that my main asset is in being an offensive defenseman. I move the puck pretty well and I like to jump into the play as much as I can and create offense for the team. I enjoy getting points and I enjoy getting in there and getting goals or assists, it doesn’t really matter to me but that’s what I enjoy.
HF: Look to the second half of the OHL season and the stretch to the playoffs. Is yours a team that is built for the playoffs?
DD: I think that we are. I think that we kind of underachieved in that first half and a lot of people thought that we were going to be better than we’ve ended up proving. We went on a 10-game losing streak there and that was kind of heartbreaking but I think we’re turning it around here and we’ve won five of our last six so if we can continue to win I think by playoff time we’ll do very well.
After 36 games with the Storm this season, Doughty has collected 38 points but is a minus-11. After a 74-point campaign in 2006-07, much was expected from the London product this year and he’s delivered on the international and domestic stages. Central Scouting has the defenseman ranked second among North American skaters and that also seems to be the consensus thought from the scouting community that HF has spoken with recently.
Doughty checks in at 6’0 and an intimidating 213 lbs, which one scout was quick to point out as being “100 percent muscle, there’s not much baby fat on him. He’s about as solid as they come.”