McKenzie: Class of 2008 already under the spotlight

Bob McKenzie
10/6/2008 6:44:28 PM
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Not since 1990 - when Owen Nolan, Petr Nedved, Keith Primeau, Mike Ricci and Jaromir Jagr did it - have the first five picks of the Entry Draft been on opening night NHL rosters in the same year they were drafted.

But it looks like it's going to happen this year.

First overall pick Steven Stamkos, of course, has already played two games for the Tampa Bay Lightning and will be a fixture there.

No. 2 pick Drew Doughty has made the Los Angeles Kings' roster and they just don't see any upside to sending him back for a fourth OHL season.

Atlanta will have defenceman Zach Bogosian as one of its top six to start, but will see after nine games how he is adapting.

Both the St. Louis Blues and Toronto Maple Leafs will adopt the same philosophy with defencemen Alex Pietrangelo and Luke Schenn. Pietrangelo and Schenn have excelled in training camp and deserve to be there on opening night, but their rebuilding clubs will re-assess before the 10th game for each.

If an underage junior plays 10 games, it burns the first year of his entry-level contract.

If he plays 40 games, it counts as a year's service towards eventual unrestricted free agency. In 1990, Nolan and Primeau were eventually returned to their junior teams.

Nikita Filatov was dynamic in Columbus's final pre-season game, but the sixth overall pick looks like he will need more seasoning. No. 8 pick Mikkel Boedker is starting on Phoenix's second line and 28th overall pick Viktor Tikhonov will also play as a regular for the Coyotes.

Josh Bailey, taken ninth overall, will get a long look in the Islanders final pre-season game and how he plays could determine whether he's headed back to the Windsor Spitfires.

The only other 2008 first rounder likely to start in the NHL is Swiss defenceman Luca Sbisa, the 19th selection who is in Philadelphia's top six.

The league seems to be getting younger and younger each season and the number of 2008 first-rounders who will at least start in the NHL is evidence of that.

Bob McKenzie


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