The Top Of The NHL Draft Has Similarities To The 2008 NHL Draft; Will The Blue Jackets Make The Same Mistake?

By Dan Dukart on June 6, 2024 at 1:45 pm
Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nikita Filatov fires a shot
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

The 2008 NHL Draft is practically ancient history, but reverberations throughout the league are still felt today.

The top of the draft was headlined by a center, Steven Stamkos, who was followed by a run on defensemen. With the sixth overall pick, the Columbus Blue Jackets took a swing on a highly-skilled, Russian winger, Nikita Filatov. Filatov was a bust and never lived up to his massive potential, one of many fails in this era of the organization.

2008 NHL Draft First Six Picks
Pick Team Player Games Points
1 TBL Steven Stamkos 1082 1137
2 LAK Drew Doughty 1177 669
3 ATL Zach Bogosian 848 227
4 STL Alex Pietrangelo 1016 604
5 TOR Luke Schenn 996 198
6 CBJ Nikita Filatov 53 14

This isn't to say that the Blue Jackets passed up on an obvious-in-hindsight player - i.e., Gilbert Brule instead of Anze Kopitar - as the next four picks were Colin Wilson, Mikkel Boedker, Josh Bailey, and Cody Hodgson. All were productive players, no doubt, but we're not talking about missing out on a Hall Of Famer. On the other hand, any of those - and certainly some of the later first-round picks, like Erik Karlsson (15th), Jordan Eberle (22nd), and John Carlsson (27th). 

This isn't to relitigate the draft or even to claim that the Blue Jackets should have picked one of those aforementioned stars. Yes, hindsight is always 20:20. It serves, however, as a cautionary tale and a nice allegory for the upcoming draft later this month.

Macklin Celebrini is the presumptive first-overall pick and serves as our Stamkos representative. Next is a slew of defensemen who could go in any order in the next 10 or so picks, including Artyom Levshunov, Zeev Buium, Zayne Parekh, Sam Dickinson, Anton Silayev, and Carter Yakemchuk. Much like in 2008, the order was/is up for debate. While Zach Bogosian and Luke Schenn don't scream "top five talent", the reality is they've both had successful careers. Obviously, Drew Doughty and Alex Pietrangelo are a step (or several steps) above. But the point is that all of them are preferable to Filatov. It's easy to understand why the Blue Jackets fell in love with the smaller Russian winger, who scored 22 points in 26 games in the KHL as a 19-year-old. The talent was obvious, and the imagination ran wild. This year's proxy for Filatov is Ivan Demidov, another uber-talented Russian winger. This is not at all to suggest that Demidov will replicate Filatov's career - in fact, I think he'll be a very productive NHL forward. Instead, my point is that that risk exists in taking a flashy winger over a steady defender. 

Other players are in the mix for the Blue Jackets aside from these defensemen and Demidov. Center Cayden Lindstrom immediately comes to mind as someone who may be worth a flier if available. Maybe the scouting staff is in love with Tij Iginla, Cole Eiserman, or Berkly Catton.

It takes years to determine the outcome of a draft, and that's because players take time to actualize - or not - into what they'll become. So the question is, how similar in hindsight will this draft be to the 2008 NHL Draft? Time will tell. 

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