A lot can happen in four years. Every four years we have a leap year, we get to watch the spectacle that is the Winter Olympics, and we’re treated to the World Cup. Four years is also the length of time a running back in the NFL tends to remain relevant.
For these purposes, though, the four year window has a different sort of significance. It has been four years since the much-heralded 2008 NHL entry draft. On June 20th, 2008 we witnessed 12 defensemen get taken in the first round, with four of the first five picks being blueliners.
Taking a defensemen that high is a questionable strategy, given what we know about their developmental curves and success rate of panning out. But it’s hard to argue with the results of this particular draft.
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The graphic below is from a post by Jonathan Willis on Oilers Nation, which shows where they were selected (1st number), where they were ranked by THN in their draft preview (2nd number), and a quote about the player:
What you’ll notice is that of the group, the only two who have yet to provide us with a single relevant NHL moment are Colten Teubert, and Tyler Cuma. Cuma has played only one game for the Minnesota Wild, while Teubert was traded for a package involving Dustin Penner and pancakes. It’s not a great sign that his most significant moment came last September when Adam Polasek of the Canucks viciously KO’d him.
The other ten have gone on to make an impact in varying degrees over the past four years. But they weren’t the only defensemen from the ’08 draft to make names for themselves. Slava Voynov, Justin Schultz, and Travis Hamonic were all selected in the second round of that same draft.
With this being a Jets blog and all, it’s only right that we focus on how Zach Bogosian has fared against his peers. Let’s take a look at some of the more notable numbers and factoids, in an attempt to stack his contributions to the Jets (and before that, the Thrashers) up against those of the others since he was selected 3rd overall. If we were to re-draft the ’08 defensive class, where would he go?
I took the liberty of compiling all of the (relevant, in my humble opinion) statistics that the defensemen worthy of consideration have accumulated since they were drafted. As you’ll notice, the counting stats are in the graph above, while the underlying numbers are below.
It’s quite clear that Drew Doughty remains the class of this crew, as he was back on draft day. He logs big minutes against the best of the best, and manages to thrive. Chances are that his 59-point outburst in ’09-’10 is a blip in the radar, but that’s okay. He re-established himself as one of the very best with a sparkling performance in last year’s playoffs.
Where things truly get interesting are after Doughty. Who would you rather have, Alex Pietrangelo or Erik Karlsson? I’d personally lean towards Pietrangelo. While Karlsson truly had a spectacular year, it’s hard not to look at his work without your mind drifting towards the cautionary tale of Mike Green. I don’t think Karlsson will fall off the map the way Green did, but there’s definitely reason to believe that we just saw the most productive season of his career. Pietrangelo rather quietly topped 50 points last season; he is not quite as dynamic offensively as Karlsson, but he is far superior to him on the other end of the ice.
And that’s where Zach Bogosian comes into play, as the 4th defensemen off of the board. Bogosian’s biggest issues have come in the form of staying on the ice by avoiding injury, and the fact that there are already two well-established defensemen in front of him. His point totals are low because he’s not getting the requisite time with the man advantage that it takes to put up big numbers. But he’s playing the tough minutes against quality competition, without looking all that out of place, which speaks to his defensive ability.
If the Jets are wise, they’ll continue to feed the former 1st rounder more minutes in the future. Just be aware that as long as Enstrom and Byfuglien are part of the defensive corps, his point totals will continue to be repressed.
In case you were interested, I’d likely take John Carlson after Bogosian. He may one of the most underrated players in the entire NHL, and once he’s legitimately given a chance to shine by the Capitals, he will do big things. After that, the discussion is between Myers, Del Zotto, and
Colten Teubert Tyler Cuma Luke Schenn Travis Hamonic (who you may not be all that familiar with as of right now, but will be in the very near future).
For all intensive purposes, we could be right back here in 2016, evaluating the impressive crop of defenseman that were taken in this past year’s entry draft. Maybe Jeff Angus will write an article pitting the ’12 class against the one of ’08. As a fan of hockey (and Jeff Angus), one can only hope.