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:
1st Overall: Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning (1)
2nd Overall: Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings (2)
3rd Overall: Roman Josi, Atlanta Thrashers (38)
4th Overall: Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues (4)
5th Overall: Erik Karlsson, Toronto Maple Leafs (15)
6th Overall: John Carlson, Columbus Blue Jackets (27)
7th Overall: Jacob Markstrom, Nashville Predators (31)
8th Overall: Braden Holtby, Phoenix Coyotes (93)
9th Overall: Jordan Eberle, New York Islanders (22)
Voters opted to have the New York Islanders go with Eberle over their original selection, lifelong Islander Josh Bailey. Eberle may have had a stronger start to his career, and has likely had a bit more of an impact overall, but it’s hard to imagine the Islanders organization without Bailey’s leadership for the past decade-plus. The upgrade in play between Eberle and Bailey also likely wouldn’t have done much for the Islanders, who still weren’t close to competing for a number of seasons after drafting Bailey in 2008.
None of that is to discredit Eberle’s career, which rightfully earns him top-ten honors in this redraft. His 595 career points in 858 games have him third overall in the class in that regard and second among forwards, trailing only Stamkos and Karlsson in total. While he hasn’t repeated the 60-plus point seasons from his early career with the Edmonton Oilers, who originally drafted him 22nd overall, he’s maintained a solid pace for a top-six forward over the years and now figures to be an important leader for the second-year Seattle Kraken.
Up next at the podium for the tenth overall pick was the Vancouver Canucks, finishing with only 88 points despite having a top-ten defense and goaltending combo in the league with Roberto Luongo, Mattias Öhlund, Sami Salo, and a young Alexander Edler. The team was anemic offensively, with only three 40-point players on the roster (Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Markus Naslund). They hoped that their original 10th overall choice in 2008, Cody Hodgson, a center from the OHL’s Brampton Battalion, would become an important piece in revitalizing the Canucks offense.
But it was not to be. Hodgson did well in the remainder of his OHL career but failed to make the impact in the Vancouver lineup as quickly as Canucks fans hoped. Hodgson didn’t make his NHL debut until 2010-11 and appeared in 12 playoff games during Vancouver’s 2011 run to the Stanley Cup Final. But during his first full season in the NHL, 2011-12, Hodgson was traded to the Buffalo Sabres at the trade deadline in exchange for Zack Kassian. He had 33 points in 63 games at the time – not awful totals from a rookie, no doubt, especially when playing under 13 minutes per game.
To date, it remains a bit of a puzzling trade, as Hodgson went on to have a few successful seasons in Buffalo. His best season came the following year, during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. Playing the full 48 games, Hodgson finished second on the Sabres in scoring with a 15-goal, 34-point season while also playing top-line minutes.
Unfortunately for Sabres fans, it was not a sign of things to come. Hodgson set a career-high 20 goals and 44 points the following season in 2013-14, but his per game pace dropped dramatically as he played in 72 games. However, it was the 2014-15 campaign that sent Hodgson’s NHL career off the rails. An abysmal year for the team (which led to them landing Jack Eichel) was also an abysmal year for Hodgson, whose point total dropped to just 13 in 78 games, his worst offensive pace in any league he’d ever played in. Bought out by the Sabres, he tried to resurrect his career the following season with the Nashville Predators, where he posted just eight points in 39 games. It was the last season of Hodgson’s professional career, playing his last game of pro hockey just eight years after going 10th overall.
Undoubtedly, there were better choices for Vancouver at that spot. Having Jared Spurgeon in their lineup right now alongside Quinn Hughes would be the difference between a playoff bubble team and a Stanley Cup contender, fixing a glaring hole at a position of need. T.J. Brodie would also be a solid option on defense while drafting Cam Atkinson or Josh Bailey would have given them a much more consistent scoring winger.
So PHR readers, who would you have told the Canucks to pick at 10th overall out of the players still available on our board? Vote in the poll below and discuss in the comments.
FWIW, Bailey may be a good leader, but it hasn’t been enough to win a cup. Additionally, who is to say Eberle couldn’t have become the guy instead of him?
Interesting that now everyone votes for Spurgeon when a team with an excellent defensive core comes up to choose.
surprise I thought Atkinson would be picked. guess i have decide who to vote next time. lol I have taken Spurgeon everytime since six
This poll reminds me why the Blue Jackets were so bad for so long. They took Nikita Filatov at #8 overall and naturally he didn’t make it. 6 of the 8 players they drafted were duds. Not until Matt Calvert in round 5 and Cam Atkinson in round 6 did they finally get it right. By this time Doug MacLean had been fired, but the poor scouting of his leadership still had not been filtered out. Of the 83 players drafted by MacLean, only 23 had any significant playing time in the NHL.