With the NHL draft hoping to be done in about a month, it’s time to begin flashing back to the Flyers’ draft classes in the past two decades. In the latest installment of Philly Sports Network’s “where are they now” draft series, we take a look at the 2008 NHL draft.
Before getting into the picks, it’s important to analyze the season leading up to the draft. During the 2007-2008 season, Philadelphia did not have a point-per-game scorer. 22-year-old Mike Richards led the way for the Flyers, picking up 75 points for the club. Behind the bench, John Stevens was in his first full year as head coach. The Flyers made the playoffs as a wild card team, as they finished fourth in the Atlantic Division. This does not tell the whole story, as they finished with a 42-29-11 (95 points) record, and a full head of steam heading into the playoffs. After taking a seven-game series against Washington, the orange and black nearly swept the Habs, only to lose to the Penguins in the Conference finals. This gave them the 27th overall pick in the 2008 NHL draft.
The Flyers’ first-round was a bit all over the place. Their first-round pick went to the Washington Capitals as the result of a draft-day trade that sent Steve Eminger and a third-round pick in 2008 (84th overall) to Philadelphia in exchange for the 27th pick. Philly would wind up getting a first-rounder back, though. The Colorado Avalanche’s first-round pick went to them as the result of another draft-day trade that sent R. J. Umberger and a fourth-round pick in 2008 (118th overall) to Columbus in exchange for a third-round pick in 2008 (67th overall) and the 19th pick.
Luca Sbisa came as a solid prospect, playing one of the best two-way games for d-men at the time of the draft. His 6’3, 205-pound size was deceiving, as Sbisa’s speed was fast enough to give him a physical edge in both zones. Prior to the draft, Sbisa played in a Swiss league, also making appearances for their national team. In 2007, he made the switch to the WHL, playing in 62 games (33 points) for the Lethbridge Hurricanes. He would stay with Lethbridge for 18 games before making a short stint with the Phantoms. After only 2 AHL games, Sbisa joined the Flyers for 39 total games (7 points).
However, that’s all he would get in a Flyers’ uniform. After his first season, he was traded to Anaheim with Joffrey Lupul, Philadelphia’s 1st round picks in 2009 and 2010, and future considerations for Chris Pronger and Ryan Dingle. Sbisa would go onto play with the Ducks until 2014, picking up a mere 49 points in 227 games. Right around draft time again, he would be included in a deal that sent him, Nick Bonino and Anaheim’s 1st and 3rd round picks in 2014 NHL Draft to Vancouver for Ryan Kesler and Vancouver’s 3rd round pick in 2015 NHL Draft.
His Canucks run would last until the expansion draft for the Golden Knights. He would soon contribute to the Knights’ remarkable Cup run after getting good playing time heading into the playoffs. After one season, he would sign with the Islanders to only play nine games on Long Island. He’d get signed by Anaheim again back in October, only to get waived and picked up by Winnipeg. Before the season was suspended, he picked up 10 points in 44 games for the Jets.
The whole situation was further highlighted by my colleague Eric Reese (@ericreesepsn), in one of his “Flyerthetical” pieces. The Flyers wound up taking Sbisa, and John Carlson went at their original pick at 27.
A year prior, the Flyers traded their 2008 2nd rounder and Nashville’s 2007 3rd Rounder for Washington’s 2007 2nd round pick, where they drafted Kevin Marshall. So, they had to wait until round three for another selection.
Philly would go back-to-back d-men with their first two picks. Second up was Marc-Andre Bourdon.
Prior to the 2008 draft, Bourdon spent his time in the QMJHL as captain of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. In his last two seasons in Juniors, Bourdon found himself nearly averaging a point per game, flashing his two-way potential. He’d stay the entire season after being drafted in Juniors, eventually being traded to Rimouski Océanic. He would join the Phantoms in 2009, and stay professional for the rest of his playing career. With Adirondack (Lehigh Valley), he’d accumulate 40 points in 149 total games. In 2011-2012, he found himself on taking a leap to join the big league club for 45 games (7 points).
Bourdon retired after the 2014 season. Nowadays, you can find him behind the bench for the Liberty Flames NCAA team as an assistant coach.
The Flyers had another third round pick in this draft, gaining it as a piece of the Umberger deal. With #84 overall, they took Jacob Deserres, a goaltender out of Canada.
From 2006-2010, Deserres was a net minder in the WHL. As a member of the Seattle Thunderbirds, he averaged under three goals allowed per game, with a sub .900 save percentage. This does not sound ideal, but his agility alone seemed to be enough for general manager Paul Holmgren. He would end up being the only pick from this draft to not play a single NHL game, as the closest he would get is the ECHL. Nowadays, Deserres floats around randomly in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport league, playing drop-in games here or there.
Ah, here’s a name we all know and love… I guess?
Philly traded their fourth-round pick in the Umberger deal, and their fifth-rounder in a deal for Mike York. So after a three-round gap, the Flyers finally made their fourth selection by taking Zac Rinaldo in the sixth round. Being the 178th overall pick, Rinaldo lived up to any expectations, if there even were any. Rinaldo played in the OHL for a couple of different teams before the draft and two years after, producing at a mediocre level. He would finally make the switch to the pros, joining the Phantoms in 2010.
After an entire season (9 points in 60 games) with Adirondack, he joined the Flyers for two playoff games. His biggest contribution was his 12 penalty minutes. He would continue to float back and forth from Philly to Adirondack until 2013, where he joined the Flyers full time. As a fourth liner, he would pick up 10 points and 255 PIM in 115 games. He was later traded by Philly to Boston for the B’s 3rd rounder in 2017 (Kirill Ustimenko). By the looks of it now, not a bad trade for the Flyers in terms of value there.
Rinaldo has played for three more teams in three years since Boston, and has contributed 5 points in 19 games for Calgary this year.
The Flyers would only take one forward in this draft, as they took goaltender Joacim Eriksson #196 overall.
Eriksson has a unique style of goaltending, described as the “battlefly.”
An athletic “battlefly” style puckstopper who has good hand-eye coordination and a very good glove hand. Very good lateral movement and covers the bottom of the net well, but can get caught out of position at times. His style is neither traditional butterfly, nor is it hybrid; it can only be summed up in one word: “battlefly.”Curtin Joe, EP 2014
The Swedish netminder played with numerous Swedish teams as a prospect. He had a clutch factor in the playoffs, never allowing more than three goals in a Swedish playoff game (his highest GAA in the playoffs was 2!). The Flyers would trade his rights to Tampa in 2008 in the deal for Vaclav Prospal. However, he continued his dominance overseas until 2013. On January 15, 2014, he would be called up from the Utica Comets to start against the Anaheim Ducks. He may have an NHL goals-against average of 9.99, but it was an NHL start nonetheless.
Currently, Eriksson just signed with the Schwenninger Wild Wings of the DEL, where he looks to make his Wild Wings debut during the 2020-2021.
Mandatory Credit – © Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports