Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings is one of five 18-year-old defencemen who made their teams' opening-day rosters. ((Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)))

Drew Doughty has the puck, but no place to put it — no wall to mount it on, no fireplace mantle to showcase it, not even an end table to set it down on.

So, what plans does the Los Angeles Kings rookie defenceman, who's been living in a hotel since the start of the season, have for the puck with which he scored his first career NHL goal?

"It depends on whenever I get a place of my own," Doughty laughed in an interview with

If he hasn't already, Doughty will likely start house hunting soon. The Kings told him this week that he will remain with the club for the remainder of the regular season, instead of going back down to the junior leagues.

Staying with the Kings for the season

Most pundits assumed that Doughty, a standout with the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League the past three years, would make the Kings' starting-day roster and remain with the club for the balance of the regular season.

But Doughty maintains he never took it for granted.

"It was unbelievable when they told me," he divulged. "It's a dream come true just to play in the NHL, but one thing coming into the league this year was that I wanted to make the team and stay here this season, so it was nice to know that I have a spot."

Doughty was one of four undrafted players who helped Canada win a gold medal at the world junior hockey championships in January. He was named the top defenceman of the tournament after recording four assists in seven games.

It was the sheer competitive streak that Doughty displayed during the tourney that caught the attention of Kings general manager Dean Lombardi, who used the second overall pick in this year's draft to select the 18-year-old native of London, Ont.

"This kid's a competitor. People forget at the world juniors he was the best defenceman, and I don't think I've ever seen a draft-eligible kid take over that tournament like he did," Lombardi recently told Hockey Night in Canada Radio.

Touted as a future Norris Trophy winner, Doughty has impressed Lombardi with his slick skating ability, vision on the ice and general hockey smarts.

"He's what you might call the trip-option guy, like the quarterback who can look up and doesn't see his two primary receivers, but he can find the third one, and there's not a lot [of defencemen] like that," the Kings GM said.

Playing in the NHL can be intimidating for any rookie straight out of junior hockey, especially a teenager like Doughty, but the Kings blue-liner believes he's made a smooth transition.

"It's been a bit of an adjustment, but I think I've adapted to it pretty quickly," Doughty said. "I think I got used to it after my first couple of shifts. It's going well so far, but it's definitely an adjustment, especially the speed of the NHL.

"To play against guys you looked up to, it's pretty weird at first just knowing you're going against guys you idolized growing up as a kid. You're kind of in awe for the first shift, but after that you settle down."

O'Donnell serving as a mentor

Being paired on the same defensive line as veteran Sean O'Donnell has helped the young rookie acclimatize to the rigours of the NHL. Doughty said O'Donnell, acquired in a trade with Anaheim last month, has been the ideal mentor.

"Sean's been unbelievable. He's been a big help and he's such a good player. After every shift he's telling me something different, he's telling me some little thing that the coaches don't know about unless they played the game," Doughty explained.

"He's taught me so much. Just watching him, he's so calm out there and he never panics. He's been a good partner for me."

Aside from his defensive skills, Lombardi said Doughty's offensive abilities are nothing to sniff at either, and the Kings defenceman admitted he looks for opportunities "to jump into the rush and contribute offensively."


Doughty scores his first-ever NHL goal. ((Jeff Lewis/Associated Press))

The Colorado Avalanche got a first-hand look at how dangerous Doughty can be when he has the goal in his sightline.

Last week, the Kings rookie scored his first NHL goal when picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone, effortlessly skipped past the blue-line and took a 15-foot wrist shot from the circle that went through the legs of Colorado defenceman John-Michael Liles and past goalie Peter Budaj's stick.

"It was great to finally get that first goal," Doughty said.

Doughty is logging serious ice-time — he's averaging just over 22 minutes per game — thanks in large part to a shoulder injury to fellow defenceman Jack Johnson, who is expected to miss three months of action.

Johnson's injury paved the way for Doughty to move up the Kings' depth chart and play on the team's top defensive line, and he's tried to make the most of it.

"I've been given the opportunity and been playing a lot of minutes, and that's what I enjoy," Doughty said. "When I was in Guelph last season, I was playing 35 minutes a game. It was a change when I first got here when Jack was still in the lineup, because I was only playing 18 minutes, but even that was still quite a bit."

Aside from Doughty, four 18-year-old defencemen made their teams' opening-day rosters: Zach Bogosian of the Atlanta Thrashers, Alex Pietrangelo of the St. Louis Blues, Luke Schenn of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Luca Sbisa of the Philadelphia Flyers.

That's a startling number considering that, according to, only nine 18-year-old defencemen debuted as NHL rookies in the last 15 seasons.

Doughty views it as a positive, emerging trend that NHL clubs are showing confidence in young defenceman and giving them a chance to prove they can handle the demanding pace of the game at a young age.

"I think it's a good thing because a lot of guys could go back to juniors, but there's not much they can really gain.… I think if you can prove you can play in this league, you're going to stay."