Top 100-or-higher pick: RW Gustav Nyquist, 121st overall, Detroit Red Wings
Honorable mention: RW Dale Weise, 111th overall, New York Rangers; D T.J. Brodie, 114th overall, Calgary Flames; D Jared Spurgeon, 156th overall, New York Islanders; RW Cam Atkinson, 157th overall, Columbus Blue Jackets; D Jason Demers, 186th overall, San Jose Sharks
Nyquist certainly isn’t on a Benn level, but I think he’s certainly a talented guy. The scene right now in Detroit is a little wonky, what with Datsyuk shipping out and the Wings possibly being coached by a group of players instead of Jeff Blashill. So Nyquist may not be in the best of situations to have his potential utilized.
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But he’s been alright so far with the Wings, and it’s honestly better than anyone else and pick 100 or beyond can say. Nyquist posted 48 points in just 57 games in the 2013-14 season before falling back to Earth a bit with 54 and 43 points in each of the last two campaigns, during which he played all 82 games. His ice time dropped precipitously under Blashill, going from a 16:39 average in Mike Babcock’s final year to 15:10 this season.
I think Nyquist has the chance to separate himself from this group as the best of 2008’s higher-numbered picks, as he’ll be just 27 years old when the 2016-17 season starts. But he may need a change of scenery, or for the Wings to get their act together behind the scenes.
Top 100-or-higher pick: Marcus Kruger, 149th overall, Chicago Blackhawks
Honorable mention: D Mattias Ekholm, 102nd overall, Nashville Predators; D Sami Vatanen, 106th overall, Anaheim Ducks; LW Mike Hoffman, 130th overall, Ottawa Senators; C Anders Lee, 152nd overall, New York Islanders
I originally was going to take Hoffman, as I think he’s showing the ability to be the best 100-or-later pick in the 2009 class. But then I remembered Kruger has already helped his team to a pair of Stanley Cups, and I had to give the Swede the nod.
Kruger may not have the offensive prowess of Hoffman, who set career highs for goals (29) and assists (30) this season (Kruger’s career highs are 9 and 20). But Kruger knows his role and has played it to a T, as one of the league’s best defensive centers. His play was critical to the 2013 and 2015 Cups for Chicago, as he was on the ice for the game-winning goal in ’13 and teamed with Andrew Shaw and Andrew Desjardins to form a dominant shutdown line in ’15.
Hoffman will definitely go on to be the better offensive player of the two, and he has decent defensive skills as a forward. But Kruger has already made far more contributions to his drafting team at the NHL level, and that can’t be overlooked.
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