Hindsight is an amazing thing, and allows us to look back and wonder “what could have been.” Though perfection is attempted, scouting and draft selection is far from an exact science, and sometimes, it doesn’t work out the way teams – or players – intended. For every Patrick Kane, there is a Patrik Stefan.
We’re looking back at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft and asking how it would shake out knowing what we do now. Will the first round remain the same, or will some late-round picks jump up to the top of the board?
The results of our redraft so far are as follows with their original draft position in parentheses:
In the real draft, Nashville made an all-around solid pick with forward Colin Wilson, a college standout who would carry his hard-working game over into the NHL ranks. Wilson’s 286 career points are good enough for 18th among 2008 draftees. Though he wasn’t a bust, Nashville could have potentially found another outcome by selecting Markstrom with the seventh pick, which might seem peculiar at first, but may have had an enormous positive impact overall. On the date of the 2008 draft, franchise great Pekka Rinne had played just three NHL games to date, establishing himself as a star the following season.
Having Markstrom in the fold behind Rinne would have blocked the younger goaltender, but may have proven a valuable trade asset for Nashville. Markstrom’s value as a prospect was as high as it could be in the early 2010’s given his ceiling, and Florida used that to its advantage, trading him along with forward Shawn Matthias to the Vancouver Canucks for Roberto Luongo and a minor leaguer. Had Nashville opted to keep Markstrom around, it’s interesting to consider that he didn’t establish himself as a regular starter until the 2017-18 season, right around the time Rinne began to take a step back due to injury and age. This could have fit as a perfect transition, however as we have seen, Nashville found that nonetheless with Juuse Saros.
We now turn to the eighth overall selection and one of two first-round picks belonging to the then-Phoenix Coyotes. The Coyotes, much like the Predators before them and the New York Islanders right after, picked a good player and someone far from a bust in forward Mikkel Boedker. For his career, Boedker had 118 goals and 209 assists for 327 points over 709 games played, enough for 15th in points and 19th in games played among members of the 2008 draft class. Those numbers put Boedker out of an elite class of player, like Stamkos, Doughty, and Karlsson ahead of him, but fit him squarely among good, solid NHLers.
The speedy Danish winger began his career with a pair of seasons in the Frolunda development program over in Sweden prior to joining the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers for the 2007-08 season – his draft year. Boedker dominated with Kitchener, netting 29 goals along with 44 assists in 66 games. Not only that, but the forward notched six points in as many games playing for Denmark’s World Juniors squad that year.
The impressive performance was enough not only to have Boedker selected eighth-overall, but would help him make the Coyotes roster as an 18-year-old. Despite his age, Boedker showed he was ready for the NHL, putting up a relatively impressive 11 goals and 17 assists in 78 games in the desert. After his rookie effort, the Coyotes opted to give the forward more time to develop, having him spend the majority of the 2009-10 and 2010-11 campaigns in the AHL, though he didn’t take too much of a step forward there.
After establishing himself as a reliable secondary option in the seasons before, Boedker broke out in 2013-14, tallying 51 points in 82 games for the final Phoenix team, his 19 goals marking a career-high. Fast forward to 2015-16, Boedker again hit the 51 point mark, ultimately tying his career-high, but was dealt at the trade deadline to the Colorado Avalanche. The deal worked out well for Boedker, who had 12 points in 18 games down the stretch, however the Avalanche would fail to make the playoffs. The trade didn’t work out so well either for what was now known as the Arizona Coyotes. They acquired prospects Connor Bleackley and Kyle Wood, neither of whom ever played an NHL game (in fact, Bleackley re-entered the draft in 2016, and was selected by the St. Louis Blues in the fifth round), as well as veteran forward Alex Tanguay, who provided a similar 13 points in 18 games the rest of the way, retiring at season’s end.
Returning to the winner of the trade, Boedker himself, his run with the Avalanche capping off three straight seasons of solid production which helped him sign a four-year, $16MM deal with the San Jose Sharks in free agency that summer. The forward spent the first two seasons of that deal with San Jose, eventually being traded to the Ottawa Senators. At the conclusion of the contract, Boedker signed with Lugano in Switzerland, likely finishing off his NHL career.
All in all, the Coyotes got fairly decent value for their eighth overall selection, receiving 213 points in 445 games over eight seasons, fetching some worthwhile value on the deadline trade market. However, in hindsight, there were several other names available who may have had a greater impact on the franchise. Who could have had a greater impact in Arizona: an impact defenseman like Tyler Myers or Jared Spurgeon? A Vezina Trophy winner like Braden Holtby? Another scorer, but one who admittedly helped get the puck in the back of the net a bit more, like Cam Atkinson or Jordan Eberle? Or was Boedker the right choice all along?
With the eighth overall pick in the 2008 NHL draft, who will the Phoenix (Arizona) Coyotes select? Cast your vote below.
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