The 2008 NHL Entry Draft was a very solid all around draft. Outside of a few misses, the first round produced some extremely high end talent. Star players such as Steven Stamkos, Drew Doughty, Alex Pietrangelo, Erik Karlsson, and Jordan Eberle were all taken in the first round. Even the second round produced 12 players who played in at least 100 NHL games. Some of those names including Roman Josi, Justin Schultz, and Derek Stepan. This was a very strong and deep draft in my opinion.
10.) Jared Spurgeon
Spurgeon has been quite the project after being signed by Minnesota when the Islanders decided to let him walk. (The Wild have quite the history of making the Islanders look silly). He was a huge steal for Minnesota as he has evolved into one of their best defenseman.
9.) John Carlson
John Carlson has been a great offensive defender for Washington over the past 8 seasons. He is serviceable defensively and has been a very productive throughout his career. Adding to that, he has also been a big minute eater. He is also not the most physical player despite his big frame however.
8.) Jordan Eberle
Jordan Eberle has been an elite offensive threat since he broke into the league in 2010. He was one of very few bright spots on an abysmal Edmonton team throughout their era of suckage. He is always reliable for 20+ goals and 50+ points. I am very happy he has found a new home in New York where he is thriving. It’s almost as if he wasn’t one of the problems in Edmonton? (He’s on pace to get back to his career averages now that he is put in a proper role by the way).
7.) Derek Stepan
Its kind of a horse a piece between Eberle and Stepan. Stepan is also a consistent 50+ point guy and will hover around the 20 goal mark. I gave Stepan the edge simply because he is a center. He has great playmaking ability and is an excellent second line center on a contending team.
6.) Roman Josi
Roman Josi is a polarizing figure in the advanced stats hockey community due to his lackluster defense. However, Roman Josi is a top offensive defenseman in the league. I am willing to put him in the same boat as Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns when it comes to Josi’s offensive ability.
5.) Alex Pietrangelo
This is where things get really tough. You can make an argument to rearrange these next five guys I am about to name. Alex Pietrangelo is an elite all around defenseman. You can rely on him for 25+ minutes per night. He has a booming shot and is great on the powerplay.
4.) Braden Holtby
What a steal by Washington, one of the best fourth round picks ever spent. Braden Holtby is a top 3 goalie in the league with Price and Bobrovsky. Outside of the past season, he has been an unbelievable playoff performer. He has a .932% career save percentage in the playoffs. Holtby is a consistent Vezina candidate every season, and won in 2015/2016.
This is where things get extremely difficult. Any of the next three guys can be arranged in any order with logical arguement.
3.) Steven Stamkos
I love Steven Stamkos. He is my favorite player in the NHL as well as being one of the best offensive centerman in the league. Despite being known for a goal scorer, he has a very underrated playmaking ability. He is definitely a number one center on any contending team, however, the two guys in front of him just happen to be so great that it knocks Stamkos out of the top spot.
2.) Drew Doughty
I may have angered some people here. Many fans will argue that Drew Doughty is the best defenseman in the league. I’d say there is definately a reasonable argument. Doughty is they type of guy who never makes mistakes out there. He is one of very few players who cannot be dragged down despite who he plays with. He is a mad minute eater and a fantastic all around defender. Two Stanley Cups and a Norris Trophy helps put a nice resume together for Doughty. He’s also a beauty of a guy and should be interviewed all of the time.
1.) Erik Karlsson
To many people’s surprise I kept Luke Schenn out of this list. Erik Karlsson could arguably be a bigger steal than Holtby in this draft, even though he was a first rounder. He was selected 15th overall by Ottawa and this was a very criticized pick. A high risk defenseman who struggled defensively? It was not an ideal situation at first. Despite that, Karlsson developed into the best defenseman in the NHL. It’s shocking he only has two Norris Trophies even with how great he has been. Karlsson plays a very simple game at the highest level possible. He has dragged around that skeleton of a Senators team around throughout the past five years.
Honorable mentions : Justin Schultz, Travis Hamonic, Adam Henrique, T.J. Brodie, Gustav Nyquist, Cam Atkinson, Jason Demers
Despite dropping Stamkos two spots, he was/is a fantastic overall selection. He has been one of the leading forces behind Tampa’s recent success. You can see how much they miss him when he is out of the lineup. Ultimately, I am a firm believer in acquiring franchise defenseman before you start building your forward core. This was definitely the draft to find your top d-man.