Hindsight is an amazing thing, and allows us to look back and ask ourselves “what could have been”. While 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 each Patrick KaneThere is a Patrick Stefan.
We think back to the 2008 NHL Draft and wonder how it would feel knowing what we are doing now. Will the first round stay the same, or will some late round picks jump to the top of the board?
The results of our redesign so far are as follows with their original project position in parentheses:
1st overall: Steven StamkosTampa Bay Lightning (1)
2nd overall: Drew DoughtyLos Angeles Kings (2)
3rd overall: Romain JosiAtlanta Thrashers (38)
4th overall: Alex PietrangeloSt. Louis Blues (4)
5th overall: Erik KarlssonToronto Maple Leafs (15)
6th overall: John CarlsonColumbus Blue Jackets (27)
7th overall: Jacob MarkstromNashville Predators (31)
8th overall: Braden HoltbyPhoenix Coyote (93)
The Coyotes’ eighth overall selection in 2008, Mikkel Boedker, had a long career at Phoenix, but falls squarely into the “disappointing” category of top ten picks. Not a bust by any means, having played over 700 NHL games, he only had 327 points in those 709 games. Those numbers aren’t great, but they’re good enough for 15th in the class, which was low for forwards overall. It also means Boedker’s offense would have been an easily replaceable asset in free agency, so it’s reasonable to wonder if taking Holtby and his Stanley Cup-winning pedigree would have made a difference to the Coyotes’ fortunes.
Although the organization never had elite goalscoring skills and failed to establish consistent performances from year to year, goalkeepers were usually the least of their worries. Immediately after the draft, Phoenix got the best three seasons of Ilya Bryzgalov, including a Vézina Trophy nomination in 2009-2010. After his departure in 2011, mike smith immediately broke out, guiding them to the Western Conference Finals in 2012. Over 310 starts in the desert, Smith served the Coyotes well with a .916 save percentage. While you won’t hear much argument that Holtby was the better goalkeeper out of these three, the upgrade is marginal enough that it probably didn’t make a huge difference to the fortunes of the team.
The New York Islanders stepped up for the ninth overall pick, trading four fewer spots on draft day overall to the fifth overall pick. It was a decision that worked very well for them in hindsight. Their ninth overall selection was Josh Bailey, who remains the third-leading scorer among forwards in the class that day. Comparing Bailey’s career with that of the fifth selection overall (Luke Schenn) and seventh general selection (Colin Wilson) that they distributed that day, it was an even smarter move on the part of the then GM Garth Snow. Bailey, who has remained a career Islander since draft day and is currently an alternate captain, has 555 career points and will play his 1,000th game as an Islander this season.
Bailey made his NHL debut in November 2008, just five months after being drafted, and played nearly a full NHL season at age 19. He had 25 points in 68 games during his rookie season, good enough for ninth in scoring on an abysmal Islanders team that finished with just 61 points. From then on, Bailey was an infallible threat for between 30 and 50 points in a full season. He set a career-high 71 points in 76 games in 2017-18, 15 points more than his second-best total of the season.
Despite the impressive career as an Islander, there were perhaps better selections available on the board at No. 9 for New York. There are Jordan Eberlewho still ended up as an island after a few seasons in Edmonton, who is the only forward who ranks ahead of Bailey in career points from the unnamed class Steven Stamkos. There’s also the current captain of the Minnesota Wild Jared Spurgeonwho forever remains one of the NHL’s most underrated defensemen.
So we ask you, who should have the New York Islanders selected with the ninth overall pick in 2008? Have your voice heard in the poll below.
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