Nashville Predators: Reviewing the 2008 Draft and What Could Have Been

Seventh overall pick, Colin Wilson and 18th overall pick, Chet Pickard of the Nashville Predators pose for a portrait after being selected during the 2008 NHL Entry Draft at Scotiabank Place on June 20, 2008 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Getty Images)
Seventh overall pick, Colin Wilson and 18th overall pick, Chet Pickard of the Nashville Predators pose for a portrait after being selected during the 2008 NHL Entry Draft at Scotiabank Place on June 20, 2008 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Getty Images) /

What would you say if I told you the Nashville Predators could have a more deadly defensive core than it currently has?

Today I’m getting into the significance of the draft trades of 2008 for the Nashville Predators and how those moves created a winning team, but also how the team could have gone in a different direction.

The 2008 year saw a lot of change for the Nashville Predators organization as GM David Poile would have a hand in 15 trades through the year.  None were more important than the trades he did before and during the NHL Entry Draft.

The circumstances surrounding 2008

Before we get into the trades, we should understand where the Predators were as far as an organization.  The Predators had made the Stanley Cup Playoffs for four-straight years and were favorites through 2006-08.  Each year saw an end to the run in the quarterfinals, sadly.

With this success, the Predators were buyers at the trade deadline.  They traded away core players from the team to acquire Peter Forsberg from the Philadelphia Flyers.

After the season, the Predators would trade more players to get back their draft picks from the Flyers.

Players like Scottie Upshall, Scott Hartnell, and at the time captain Kimmo Timonen were just a couple of the big names moved from the team.

Tomáš Vokoun was traded in 2007 as well for draft picks mainly.  Needless to say, spots needed to be filled and the team needed to get retooled after the 2008 season.

With these changes came a plethora of trade picks for the 2008 draft that Poile would use to build a new core for the future.  With a spoon full of hindsight, we look back at the top-four trades that changed the Predators future and what could have been.

Forewarning, there are some jaw-dropping events ahead so buckle up!

The Need for a Center

The first trade that Poile made to start this draft was to move up. The Predators traded a first-round pick (9th overall) and second-round (40th overall) to the New York Islanders for their first-round pick (7th overall).

With this pick, the Predators drafted Colin Wilson. It’s safe to say that this worked out just fine for the Predators in the long run.

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“Playoff” Wilson was a solid choice for the Predators posting 95 goals and 237 points in 502 games with them.

Starting in 2009, Wilson would go on to play eight years with the Predators before getting traded to the Colorado Avalanche.

On the flip side, the Islanders would go to draft Josh Bailey and Aaron Ness.  Ness would go to play 71 games in the NHL.  Josh Bailey, however, is still a very undervalued player for the Islanders.  In 865 regular season games, Bailey has posted 154 goals and 476 points.

The memories that Wilson gave the Predators will always remain.  He was a fan favorite and gave the Predators what they needed for a strong top-9 for multiple years.

This was not by any means a bad pick at all; however, you look at what Bailey’s career has unfolded into and wonder what could have been if the Predators would have picked him instead?

Injuries plagued Wilson’s career later in his career, where Bailey is still posting full seasons with unarguably meaningful statistics.

To those asking, “What if we didn’t trade up to get him and lost both Wilson and Bailey?”  The first-round 8th pick was Mikkael Boedker.  There was no wrong choice of those three guys!

The Bombshell Trade We Want Back

The Predators held another first-round draft pick that was that 15th-overall pick.  Ottawa wanted to trade up to get a player they needed that the Predators could have used as well, but other pressing needs allowed for this trade to happen.

Ottawa sent the 18th-overall pick and a third-round 70th-overall pick to the Predators in another trade. The Predators would go to draft goalie Chet Pickard with the No.18 overall pick and Taylor Beck with the third-round pick.

Pickard was the first goalie taken in 2008.  He posted a 2.32 GAA and a .920 save percentage in 46 games in the WHL. He was called up to the Predators in 2011 during the playoff run, but never officially played a game in the NHL.  He eventually signed a deal with a team in the SHL hockey league.

Beck would go to play three years with the Predators, playing 85 games and registering 23 points.  When his contract came up, he was placed on RFA and his rights were traded to Toronto.  Beck was a solid player and fan-favorite in Milwaukee when he played.

Ottawa in return would go on to draft none other than Erik Karlsson.  He’s had an “okay” career.  Please note my sarcasm with that statement.  Karlsson is still an elite defenseman to this day.

This was the trade that could’ve shaken up the Predators system for years.

We must remember that the Predators did need a future goalie at that time as Chris Mason was 31-years-old and Pekka Rinne and Dan Ellis were ready to take the reins, but to think that the Predators could have had Karlsson is mind boggling and nauseating at the same time.

The Aftermath Silver Lining Trade

If the previous trade has you really bummed out, this trade should cheer you right back up. The next trade had the Predators moving up in the draft to get a second-round pick from the then “Phoenix” Coyotes for a second round and a third round pick.

Starting with the Coyotes, they traded one of their picks from the Predators to the Florida Panthers in the swap.

The Panthers drafted Colby Robak, who played 47 games in the NHL and managed just four points. He’s currently playing in the DEL league.

The 76th-pick was Mathieu Brodeur who never played in the NHL, but has had a career playing in the AHL and ECHL. He’s currently playing for the Fort Wayne Komets.

Now knowing that the traded picks resulted in “no regrets”, we can breathe a sigh of relief.  With their pick, the Predators would go draft the future captain and Norris Trophy winner Roman Josi.

This trade resulted in an absolute win for the Predators after trading away a pick that could have resulted in Karlsson. So they got some redemption in a big way. Josi has the chance to become the best Predators player of all-time when his career comes to an end.

What is there to say about Josi that hasn’t already been said? He’s one of the best defenseman the Predators have had in their history.  At 30-years-old, he’s still in full swing of his prime.

While people might disagree if he deserves to be the captain to this day, he is still a veteran leader and role model for younger players on the Predators.

The Unsung Late Pick Heroes

Ready to continue the roller coaster of emotions that is the 2008 draft?  Poile once again pulls an absolute steal of a trade with this one as well.

Making a deal with the San Jose Sharks, Poile sent a fourth-round pick to the Sharks in exchange for a seventh-round pick and a fourth-round pick for the following draft.

The Sharks drafted goalie Harri Sateri.  Sateri played in the AHL in the Sharks organization for four years, but was stuck behind a deep list of good goaltenders in the organization.  Sateri would then opt out and sign to play in the KHL.

With the 2008 pick that the Predators got, they would go to draft the unsung goalie, Anders Lindbäck .

Lindbäck would only play a couple years with the Predators, but posted fairly decent numbers as Rinne’s back-up.  He gave the Predators two solid seasons averaging a .914 save percentage and 2.53 GAA.

Unfortunately, Lindbäck was then traded away in 2012 to Tampa Bay.  He would re-sign with the organization in 2017 and was a great mentor for up-and-coming Juuse Saros. He is currently playing in the KHL for Jokerit.

The 2009 fourth-round pick that was received in the deal would turn out to be Craig Smith. A hard-working, fast skating right wing that added pop to the top lines.  He created offense and became an important part of the Predators line up every night.

In nine seasons, Smith netted 162 goals and 330 points in 661 regular season games played.  Another guy that’s part of the favorites in recent years. We wish him luck with his new team, the Boston Bruins.

This trade was an absolute steal again as Poile would get great service out of Smith and an important piece in Lindback multiple times over.

Related Story. Grading the Early Draft Classes of the Nashville Predators. light

Start of a New Era?

With the 2008 draft complete and major moves made, it could be argued that this draft started the beginning of a new era for the Predators.  You can’t win every single pick and trade, but overall Poile was able to get long-term success from multiple players from this draft all because of some picks being moved around.

The Predators need that same magic to happen again with their most recent drafts over the past two seasons which included Philip Tomasino, Egor Afanasyev and Iaroslav Askarov.