Steven Stamkos went No. 1 in the 2008 NHL draft and he holds on to the top spot, but just barely. There are no fewer than five cornerstone defensemen who are hot on Stamkos’ heels, as well as one of the most accomplished goaltenders of the past decade.
Here’s a look at the original top 10 draft picks in 2008, followed by a redo of the top 10 with the benefit of hockey hindsight.
2008 NHL draft: The original top 10
1. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay
2. Drew Doughty, Los Angeles
3. Zach Bogosian, Atlanta
4. Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis
5. Luke Schenn, Toronto
6. Nikita Filatov, Columbus
7. Colin Wilson, Nashville
8. Mikkel Boedker, Phoenix
9. Josh Bailey, NY Islanders
10. Cody Hodgson, Vancouver
2008 NHL draft: The top 10 do-over (with original draft position in parentheses)
1. Steven Stamkos (1st, Tampa Bay)
2. Erik Karlsson (15th, Ottawa)
3. Drew Doughty (2nd, Los Angeles)
4. Roman Josi (38th, Nashville)
5. John Carlson (27th, Washington)
6. Alex Pietrangelo (4th, St. Louis)
7. Braden Holtby (93rd, Washington)
8. Jordan Eberle (22nd, Edmonton)
9. Tyler Myers (12th, Buffalo)
10. Derek Stepan (51st, NY Rangers)
Honorable mentions: Cam Atkinson (157th, Columbus); Adam Henrique (82nd, New Jersey); Josh Bailey (9th, NY Islanders); Jacob Markstrom (31st, Florida); Jared Spurgeon (156th, NY Islanders).
- Lightning strike: Stamkos is the best forward from the 2008 draft and it’s not close. He has 422 NHL goals, while only one other player has more than 200 (Eberle, 225). He has 832 points, while the next-best forward (Eberle again) has 518. In short, Stamkos doesn’t have any competition up front. But the blueline? That’s a different story.
- Dominant defensemen: The ’08 draft was loaded with elite D-men. Karlsson, Doughty, Josi, Carlson and Pietrangelo are about as good as it gets in the NHL. All but Josi were drafted in the first round, and he went to Nashville early in Round 2. Myers isn't of the same caliber as those players, but he’s worthy of a spot in the top 10 do-over. Spurgeon, a sixth-round pick, gets an honorable mention, while Travis Hamonic (53rd, NY Islanders), T.J. Brodie (114th, Calgary), Justin Schultz (43rd, Anaheim), Jake Gardiner (17th, Anaheim), Jason Demers (186th, San Jose), Bogosian and Michael Del Zotto (20th, NY Rangers) also arrived via the 2008 draft.
- Just win, baby: Holtby reeled off three consecutive 40-plus win seasons from 2014-15 through 2016-17, including an NHL-record-tying 48 victories in 2015-16. And, of course, he was an integral part of Washington’s Stanley Cup championship in 2018, including making ‘The Save’ in Game 2 of the final that will go down in Capitals lore. Markstrom and Jake Allen (34th, St. Louis) are the other netminders of note from the 2008 draft.
- A swing and a miss: Filatov was considered the second-best forward in the ’08 draft and, like Stamkos, he turned heads with his elite skating and goal-scoring ability. Unlike Stamkos, he didn’t amount to much in the NHL, with a grand total of six goals and 14 points in 53 games across parts of four seasons. He went back home to Russia during the 2010-11 season and played in the KHL – on nine different teams – until 2019. At least Columbus unearthed Atkinson in the sixth round – the 5-foot-8 winger ranks third among 2008-drafted players with 198 goals.
- Lucky 13: The Islanders led the way with 13 draft picks in 2008, and nine of them appeared in the NHL. Four of them are still going strong: Bailey, Spurgeon, Hamonic and Matt Martin (148th overall).