What do you do when your team has been out of contention since October and there isn’t a ton going on outside of the playoffs? You go back and nitpick previous drafts, of course! So I took a look back in time to the 2008 NHL Draft to see how things would shake out with the benefit of a little hindsight. Here’s what I came up with:
1.) Tampa Bay Lightning – Original Pick: Steven Stamkos, New Pick: Stamkos – The Lightning got it right the first time with Stamkos, selecting the game’s most exciting goal scorer and one of its best players. Stamkos has rare skating ability and the hands to keep up. He should lead the Bolts for the next decade and could collect some hardware along the way.
2.) Los Angeles Kings – Original Pick: Drew Doughty, New Pick: Doughty – The gap between #1 and #2 here isn’t very big and the Kings will happily re-select their franchise defenseman. Doughty already has a Norris Trophy nomination under his belt and could walk away with a few wins before it’s all said and done. Not to mention that he’s already got a Stanley Cup under his belt and looks set to return to the Finals. Not too shabby.
3.) Atlanta Thrasers/Winnipeg Jets – Original Pick: Zach Bogosian, New Pick: Erik Karlsson – This was a tough pick the second time around, but it’s hard to ignore Karlsson’s otherworldly offensive ability from the blueline. He’s the game’s ultimate power play quarterback and arguably the best passer among rearguards in the NHL. Defense is merely okay sometimes, but he’s as exciting as they come.
4.) St. Louis Blues – Original Pick: Alex Pietrangelo, New Pick: Pietrangelo – The Blues were going to end up with someone great here regardless and are fine with their original selection. When it’s all said and done, Pietrangelo may not match the offensive output of Karlsson, but he’ll be in a short group of the best defenders in the league. Pietrangelo is the kind of guy we all expect to challenge Doughty as one of the game’s best defensemen over the next decade.
5.) Toronto Maple Leafs – Original Pick: Luke Schenn, New Pick: Jordan Eberle – Toronto always loves a flashy scorer and Eberle fits that mold to a T. Sure, they need a center, but value-wise, it’s hard to top Eberle here. He’s in the upper-echelon of goal-scorers today and though the Leafs certainly need to address other areas, it never hurts to add more firepower to the ranks of Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul.
6.) Columbus Blue Jackets – Original Pick: Nikita Filatov, New Pick: Slava Voynov – A do-over is readily welcomed by the Jackets after the debacle that was the Filatov pick. They go for the right Russian this time around, selecting the stand out two-way defender. He would immediately bolster their defense and give them the top-pairing defender they really need.
7.) Nashville Predators – Original Pick: Colin Wilson, New Pick: Derek Stepan – The original pick wasn’t a bad one, but when you can upgrade to one of the best young two-way centers in the game, you do it. Stepan is good for 50+ points and some tough, gritty defensive work. He’s not a superstar, but you win with guys like Stepan down the middle.
8.) Phoenix Coyotes – Original Pick: Mikkel Boedker, New Pick: Roman Josi – Like the Predators, it seems like the Coyotes are always unearthing defensemen when they need offense, but it’s hard to turn away from Josi here. Neither big nor overpowering, Josi is as solid as it gets defensively while providing good offensive punch (career-high 13 goals, 40 points this past year) as he continues to grow into the player he will become. He and Oliver Ekman-Larsson would make a dangerous tandem.
9.) New York Islanders – Original Pick: Josh Bailey, New Pick: Bogosian – Again, another decent original pick but the re-selection is too good to pass up. Bogosian has the skill set to hang with the defensemen at the top of this draft, but he’s struggled with injury and inconsistency. If he can put that package together for a whole year, he will skyrocket in value. He’s big, physical, mobile and offensively gifted; it’s not easy finding players with that package.
10.) Vancouver Canucks – Original Pick: Cody Hodgson, New Pick: John Carlson – While the original pick wound up being pushed out due to offensive depth, Carlson would be a welcome addition. He’s already defensively stout and would make an excellent top-four addition to an underrated Canucks team coming off of a bad year. If he can finally figure out his offensive game, this could be a steal.
11.) Chicago Blackhawks – Original Pick: Kyle Beach, New Pick: Tyler Myers – The Hawks haven’t done much wrong over the last few years, but the Beach pick has not panned out. Adding Myers adds to the ridiculous depth on the Chicago blueline and gives them options when Brent Seabrook’s deal comes up. Myers has struggled the last few years, but put up his best season since he won the Calder in 2013/14. He’s big, mobile and has some offensive punch. If he could just add a mean streak, he would have the makings of a franchise defenseman.
12.) Buffalo Sabres – Original Pick: Myers, New Pick: Gustav Nyquist – With Myers off the board, the Sabres go BPA and wind up with a good one. Nyquist has always been on the radar, but he burst onto the scene this year with dazzling offensive abilities and carried the Red Wings when their big guns were hurt. He’s got the makings of a star and the rebuilding Sabres could use someone with his skills.
13.) Los Angeles Kings – Original Pick: Colten Teubert, New Pick: Michael Del Zotto – The Kings went defense the first time around and do so again here, hitting a little closer to the mark with Del Zotto. He’s not the defensive defenseman Doughty is, but he’ll bring puck-moving ability and offense to the Kings blueline. Still inconsistent, but the talent is there.
14.) Carolina Hurricanes – Original Pick: Zach Boychuk, New Pick: Tyler Ennis – Though they are the same stature, Ennis isn’t the offensive dynamo Jeff Skinner is, but he’s not that far behind. At his best when used at center, Ennis has remarkable stickhandling and passing ability and could thrive with a sniper like Skinner. And unlike Skinner, he’s been relatively healthy, using his great elusiveness to avoid huge hits.
15.) Ottawa Senators – Original Pick: Karlsson, New Pick: Travis Hamonic – With Karlsson long gone, the Senators still opt for defense and manage to find a talented addition in Hamonic. He has nice offensive skills – not like Karlsson, obviously – but also has the grit and toughness to go with it. He’s starting to become a better-rounded defender and if he could find consistency in his decision-making, his profile would grow exponentially.
16.) Boston Bruins – Original Pick: Joe Colborne, New Pick: Hodgson – The Bruins are a deep team already, but they could find room for this talented pivot. Hodgson has fantastic hockey IQ and playmaking abilities, which would suit him well on a team that can put the puck in from the top of the lineup to the bottom and they could probably help him work out his defensive issues. Has star talent.
17.) Anaheim Ducks – Original Pick: Jake Gardiner, New Pick: Adam Henrique – It’s not that the original pick was bad, it’s that they just gave him away. They rectify that this time around by selecting the two-way center that was a finalist for the Calder Trophy just a few years ago. His offensive game needs work, but he’s strong defensively and is the kind of player you need to do the little things for you.
18.) Nashville Predators – Original Pick: Chet Pickard, New Pick: Justin Schultz – This pick won’t replace the defensive abilities of Josi, but man, can you imagine how exciting Schultz would be playing next to someone who could cover for him when he joins the rush? Not to mention the fact that the Preds would have two legit power play quarterbacks with Schultz and Weber. They may not find forwards who can score, but at least they’d have Schultz and Weber.
19.) Philadelphia Flyers – Original Pick: Luca Sbisa, New Pick: Jake Allen – Could this have worked out any more perfectly? With all due respect to Steve Mason, the Flyers could finally select their goalie of the future. Allen has flashed #1 potential in St. Louis, it’s just a matter of whether or not he could survive goaltending purgatory.
20.) New York Rangers – Original Pick: Del Zotto, New Pick: Josh Bailey – The Rangers are always searching for offense and you can never have enough of it down the middle, especially after losing Stepan. Bailey is sixth in points among 2008 draftees, but hasn’t quite put it together yet. He’s got strong playmaking skills, he just needs to find some consistency in his game.
21.) Washington Capitals – Original Pick: Anton Gustafsson, New Pick: Jared Spurgeon – This late in the draft, they can’t hope to replicate what they lost in Carlson, but getting Spurgeon is a solid consolation prize. He’s got a little bit of offensive punch to his game, but he’s a strong two-way defender who would slot in on the second pairing. No flash and frills, but does a lot of the little things right.
22.) Edmonton Oilers – Original Pick: Eberle, New Pick: Luke Schenn – Losing Eberle is a big blow, but the Oilers are so stacked with young offensive talent that they can afford to lose him. Getting the big, physical Schenn instead is just what the doctor ordered for the Oilers. They need size, toughness and skill on the back end and Schenn is just that. He’s never going to be the guy we all thought he was in 2008, but he’s still a solid, nasty defender and you can’t have too many of those.
23.) Minnesota Wild – Original Pick: Tyler Cuma, New Pick: Colin Wilson – Like the Predators and Coyotes, it seems like the Wild are always looking for more offense and Wilson looks like a guy on the verge of really taking off. He took a step back last year after posting 19 points in 25 games, but he’s big (6’1”) and has a good skill set. Maybe working with a little more talent in Minnesota would help him finally get over the hump.
24.) New Jersey Devils – Original Pick: Mattias Tedenby, New Pick: Cam Atkinson – Small in stature (5’8”), Atkinson is big in heart and brings the skills to boot. Coming off a career-best 21 goal season, Atkinson is all effort. He will give you everything he has and provide some bottom-six pop. His style fits perfectly for New Jersey hockey: not much flash, but a ton of substance.
25.) Calgary Flames – Original Pick: Greg Nemisz, New Pick: Sbisa – The Flames won’t be good for a long while, but players like Sbisa will help them dig out of their hole. He’s not a sexy pick – he’s steady, doing his job quietly – but he’s the kind of 4/5 defenseman teams covet.
26.) Buffalo Sabres – Original Pick: Ennis, New Pick: Gardiner – For the second time, the Sabres’ original pick is off the board. Gardiner, a good puck-moving defenseman who looks capable of being a power play quarterback, will go a long way towards replacing Myers. He’s still a little on the slim side for his 6’1” – 6’2” frame and could stand to work on his defensive game, but he’s got the potential to be a star.
27.) Washington Capitals – Original Pick: Carlson, New Pick: Braden Holtby – Funny how that worked out, huh? The Caps were able to grab Holtby much later in 2008, but this time around they’ll have to pay for their #1 netminder. He’s shown promise and played very well for the Caps in the 2012 playoffs, but he’s been inconsistent in the regular season with a penchant for soft goals. If he can put it all together, he could be a franchise goalie. If not, he’s still probably going to be pretty good.
28.) Phoenix Coyotes – Original Pick: Viktor Tikhonov, New Pick: Boedker – Another original pick of the Coyotes, only they get much better value on him this time around. A skilled, speedy player, he enjoyed a breakout year last season with 19 goals and 51 points. Boedker may never be the offensive player they thought he would be, but he’s carved himself a nice role in Phoenix.
29.) Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets – Original Pick: Daultan Leveille, New Pick: Anders Lindback – The Jets desperately need to find a replacement for the okay-at-best Ondrej Pavelec and Lindback could be that man. He’s huge (6’6”) and covers a ton of the net, but he’s still struggling to find that consistency that can make him a starter. Could become an effective starter soon.
30.) Detroit Red Wings – Original Pick: Thomas McCollum, New Pick: Jacob Markstrom – If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. The Wings didn’t get it right with their original goaltending pick, so they’ll try their luck with Markstrom. He’s been considered an elite prospect the last few years, but his continued struggles in Florida hurt his stock last year before he was traded to Vancouver. He’s got the tools; he just needs to find his confidence again.
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