SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA“We haven’t seen a draft this good since 2003”.  That was the word going around prior to the 2008 NHL entry draft.  Stamkos, Doughty, Bogosian, Pietrangelo, some pundits thought the best player in the draft was Russian winger Nikita Filatov.  They were wrong on that.  Actually, they were wrong on a lot of things in this draft…


It started with Luke Schenn going 5th to the Leafs.  The background on this is pretty hilarious actually.  The Leafs were picking 7th, with Cliff Fletcher running the show.  Fletcher was the interim GM, and was “setting the table” for Brian Burke whom most expected to become the next GM of the Leafs, which he was.  7th seemed like a good spot to stay and begin the rebuild with that pick.  But Cliff got itchy, and he wanted Schenn who was compared to Adam Foote.  The problem was that the league was changing, and stay at home D-men were becoming dinosaurs.


So the Leafs who were supposedly all about stockpiling draft picks and rebuilding “the right way”, gave the NY Islanders a 3rd in the 08 draft, and a 2nd in the 09 draft to move up 2 slots.  The funny thing is, I have no idea who they were looking to move ahead of!  Schenn wasn’t in the same class as Doughty, Bogosian or Pietrangelo even at that time.  7th seemed like a pretty safe spot to take Schenn and if not a lot of guys who were in the same class were there for the taking.


But I shouldn’t be too hard on the Leafs, because all they really did was kick off a run of busts.  Yes, the 08 draft, which was supposedly amazing, had busts in the 5-11 range.  Sorry, that was meant to say that picks 5-11 were busts.  In what was drawing comparisons to the best or second best draft of all time, picks 5-11 produced all busts.


I guess it depends on what you consider a bust for some of these guys, but Schenn has been a bust.  Filatov was a huge bust (I’m calling it, he’s not as good as Stamkos or Doughty), Colin Wilson is a regular but really nothing of what he was expected to be, Boedker had a 50 point season in 2014 but nothing close to what was expected, Josh Bailey also falls into that category, Cody Hodgson looked very promising for a while but is coming off a horrendous season and his career high is 44 points, and Kyle Beach was a complete bust.


Colten Teubert 13th, Zach Boychuk 14th, Chet Pickard 18th, Anton Gustafsson 21st, Tyler Cuma 23rd, Mattias Tedenby 24th, Greg Nemisz 25th, Viktor Tikhnov 28th, Daulton Leveille 29th, Tom McCollum 30th.


12 complete busts.  Add another 7 guys to that who some would suggest are busts, others would say they’ve played in the league so they aren’t busts, but greatly underachieved from what was expected.  Now, that’s not a horrible draft.  But it’s nowhere NEAR what was expected.


What makes it worse for me is that the year before was supposed to be horrible.  The 07 draft had a real good top 3 in Kane, JVR, and Turris.  Not as good as 08, but pretty solid.  I counted 13 picks who have panned out well, and that isn’t including guys like Sam Gagner or 2 D-men who have played 200+ games in Thomas Hickey and Keaton Ellerby.


So a projected awful draft produced 13 of 30 picks that panned out.  The 08 draft, projected to be an outstanding draft produced 11 (MAYBE 12, Del Zotto I’m on the fence about).  In terms of the 1st round, and expectations, I would consider the 2008 draft to be a huge bust!


Need another comparison?  The next season the 09 draft wasn’t supposed to be as good.  Good, but not near what the 08 draft was!  Well it produced 14 picks that hit pretty well.  Didn’t include Jared Cowen, didn’t include Zach Kassian.  They aren’t busts, but they’ve both failed to live up to expectations (Cowen because of injuries).


What made me think of this?  Well today’s draft is getting the 03 comparison.  It’s the 3rd since 03 to get the 03 comparison.  2013 did, and it’s still far too early to say how it’ll pan out.


But 2008, while the story isn’t fully written, we are now far enough removed to score it.  The top 4 has just about been spot on in meeting expectations (Bogosian is the only one who is a little behind and that is more so because he can’t stay healthy).  But after that, it’s amazing how far off the projections were.  So while a lot of people, including your’s truly, are raving about this draft…buyer beware.  It’s blown up in scouts faces before.


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