It’s time for our annual countdown of the best 25 Nashville Predators players under 25 years old!
This is not only a tradition here at OTF, but is also something that you might see at many other SBNation NHL blogs. The premise is simple: rank the 25 best players who have not yet reached their 25th birthday (as of August 1st, 2018).
At #20, another Milwaukee defenseman.
Over the course of the past several months, I have written extensively about the disaster that was Milwaukee’s defense last year. Second-year man Jack Dougherty is no exception to that. Once an underrated prospect who was deemed a potential lost cause when he struggled during his freshman season at Wisconsin, Dougherty is now being leaned on as a leader and minute-eater in Milwaukee and a key member of the group that at least ushers in the next young guns on the back end in Nashville.
By The Numbers
After leaving the University of Wisconsin, Dougherty posted an impressive 52 points in 68 games for the Portland Winterhawks in 2015-16. He debuted for the Admirals in 2016-17 playing in a stunning 75 games and recording 13 points.
Dougherty struggled mightily last season. In 63 games, Dougherty regressed to 12 points - 4 of which were primary points. This was despite his time on ice per game being boosted above the 15-minute mark. Dougherty’s offensive game took a downward spiral as he recorded a 1.39% shooting percentage - good for 198th out of 217 AHL defensemen who played 30 or more games last year despite recording the 127th most shots (72).
Above is a comparison of defensemen drafted in the 2nd round in 2014 and the progression of their GF% Rel since being in the AHL. Dougherty took an astonishing fall comparative only to Julius Bergman going from 1.66 GF%Rel in 2016-17 to a disastrous -10.16 GF%Rel in 2017-18. This is a measure of a player’s goals-for percentage subtracted by the goals-for percentage of the team while said player is not on the ice.
While Dougherty’s offense was not clicking, neither was his defense. Dougherty recored 1.82 goals-for per sixty minutes while giving up 3.21 goals-against per sixty minutes.
Dougherty reads the offensive zone well here and finds open space. He scores a beauty of a goal but will have to start utilizing his wrist shot more to improve his shooting percentage and goals-for percentage.
In the play above, Dougherty gets too caught up in the opposing winger off the draw and is lazy getting back for the crashing forwards who ultimately pot a goal.
Dougherty plays sound defense with the forward in front of the crease and keeps his head on a swivel. He reacts well when the puck-carrier heads towards Grosenick and does an excellent job getting his stick on the puck.
Dougherty is entering the last year of his entry-level contract with a $695,000 cap hit and a $70K salary in the minors. He will be a restricted free agent upon expiry.
Dougherty has a legitimate top-4 position waiting for him in Milwaukee if he rebounds this season. Much like Lyytinen, he will be fighting with Allard and Carrier to take the next step, but I could see him as a bubble player (Bitteto-lite) provided he has a huge turnaround this season and grows to master the AHL.