New York Islanders cash in on thirteen picks from 2008 Draft

By Josh Buckingham

Josh Bailey and Matt Martin - New York Islanders

Photo: Josh Bailey (12) and Matt Martin (17) are two of the 13 players the Islanders selected in the 2008 NHL Draft. Martin and Bailey are both regular members of the Islanders' NHL roster. (Courtesy of Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)

With thirteen picks in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft the probability of the New York Islanders selecting a few gems was pretty high. Almost five years removed from this draft, nine of the 13 players selected have played an NHL game.

At this point in time the Isles have four NHL regulars: Josh Bailey, Travis Hamonic, David Ullstrom, and Matt Martin. If everything goes as planned Matt Donovan and Kevin Poulin appear poised to join them in the near future as well. They did lose one very talented blue liner, Jared Spurgeon (MIN), whom they failed to sign after he aged out of junior. Overall, this draft has turned out to be a successful one for the Isles.

Josh Bailey, C/LW, Windsor Spitfires (OHL) – 1st Round, 9th Overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 297

Bailey started his NHL career with the Islanders immediately after being drafted, which stirred up some controversy about him being rushed into duty. He appeared in 68 games during his rookie campaign scoring seven goals and adding 18 assists. His sophomore season proved to be his best as an NHL player thus far as be potted 16 goals and assisted on 19 others. Then in his third season he really struggled scoring just 28 points and he was even sent down to Bridgeport (AHL) where he played 11 games.

He is now in the final year of a two-year contract that will make him a restricted free agent at the end of the season. Bailey was highly touted coming out of junior, but has failed to live up to very high expectations. His ceiling appears to be that of a complementary, top-nine forward in the NHL.

Corey Trivino, C, Stouffville Spirit (OPJHL) – 2nd Round, 36th Overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

After three seasons at Boston University it had appeared that this youngster had broken out in his senior year, scoring 13 goals in his first 15 games. His big season was abruptly derailed however when he was dismissed from the team following some serious legal charges. He is now no longer property of the Islanders and is currently playing for the Florida Everblades of the ECHL.

Aaron Ness, D, U.S. National U18 Team (USDP) – 2nd Round, 40th Overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 9

Ness spent three seasons at the University of Minnesota before he decided to forego his senior season and sign with the Islanders. He immediately joined the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and made an instant impact. In 2011-12 he played 69 games for the Tigers recording 27 points and consistently played in a top four role. He also played nine games with the Islanders, but failed to record a point. In his nine game stint he looked very steady and comfortable. He has played 49 AHL games this season in Bridgeport and has recorded 19 points.

Ness will continue to compete at the AHL level in Bridgeport and gain valuable experience. He still has the potential to be a very serviceable NHL defensemen in the near future.

Travis Hamonic, D, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL) – 2nd Round, 53rd Overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 151

After being drafted by the Islanders he spent two more seasons playing in the WHL for the Moose Jaw Warriors and the Brandon Wheat Kings. He then joined the Islanders organization for the 2010-11 campaign and really turned some heads. He played 19 games in Bridgeport and 62 with Isles. In his time with the big club he scored five goals and assisted on 21 others to go along with 103 penalty minutes.

Hamonic spent the entire 2011-12 season with the Islanders and proved he was a solid NHL defenseman. He has struggled this season to get settled in, but he should be back to his normal self in no time. Hamonic should be a top four defensemen with the Islanders for many years to come.

David Toews, C, Shattuck St. Mary's (USHS) – 3rd Round, 66th Overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Toews, like his older brother Jonathan, played for both Shattuck St. Mary's prep school and the University of North Dakota. After playing two seasons at the University of North Dakota, he decided to join the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL. Then that summer he was traded to his brother's team, the Chicago Blackhawks, for future considerations. From there he joined their AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs, before being sent down to the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL. He currently plays for the Idaho Steelheads (ECHL).

Toews appears to be an extreme long shot to make the NHL at this point in his career.

Jyri Niemi, D, Saskatoon Blades (WHL) – 3rd Round, 72nd Overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

After being drafted by the Isles, Niemi spent two more seasons with his junior squad, the Saskatoon Blades, of the WHL. At the conclusion of the 2009-10 season he was traded to the New York Rangers for a sixth round draft pick. At this point he has split his time between the AHL and ECHL, spending the majority of the time with the Greenville Road Warriors of the ECHL.

At this point Niemi appears to be a career depth player for the Rangers. 

Kirill Petrov, RW/LW, Ak Bars Kazan (Russia) – 3rd Round, 73rd Overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

Since being drafted by the Islanders, Petrov has spent his entire career playing in his native country of Russia as a member of the Ak Bars Kazan organization of the KHL. Many thought he would join the Islanders this season at the conclusion of the lockout, but he decided to stay in Russia. He is still property of the Islanders at this point so if he decides to come play in North America it will be with the Islanders. He has proven that he can score goals at the KHL level so hopefully that will translate, if he makes the jump over the pond to play.

Matt Donovan, D, Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (USHL) – 4th Round, 96th Overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 3

Donovan appears to be a late-bloomer and still has a ton of upside. After being drafted, he returned to the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL for a second season before the University of Denver for two seasons. He then joined Bridgeport for the 2011-12 season, posting a stellar stat line scoring 10 goals and adding 35 assists. His superb play earned him three games to end the season with the Islanders. This season the Islanders decided to leave him in Bridgeport to continue to improve his overall game.

It should not be long before Donovan is showcasing his outstanding offensive prowess in the NHL.

David Ullstrom, C/LW, HV71 (Elitserien) – 4th Round, 102nd Overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 43

Ullstrom spent two seasons playing in Sweden before making the jump to North American to play for Bridgeport in 2010-11. He made an immediate impact at the AHL level recording 41 points in 67 games his rookie season. Last season he split time between Bridgeport and the Islanders. He played very well at the NHL level appearing in 29 games mostly in a third line role. This season he has played in 14 games with the Isles and appears to have earned a full time spot with the team moving forward.

Kevin Poulin, G, Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL) – 5th Round, 126th Overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 16

After being drafted, Poulin stayed two more seasons to develop his game at the junior level with the Victoriaville Tigres of the QMJHL. He then joined Bridgeport for the 2010-11 season, posting dazzling statistics in 15 games. He also appeared in 10 games with the Islanders posting stellar statistics as well proving he had very high-end upside.

In 2011-12 he had another very solid season in Bridgeport playing in 49 games and six with the Isles. He was particularly effective in Bridgeport, posting a 26-18-4 record and 2.79 goals against average. This season he has struggled a bit in Bridgeport and has yet to be called up with the re-signing of Evgeni Nabokov and the return of Rick Dipietro.

Matt Martin, RW/LW, Sarnia Sting (OHL) – 5th Round, 148th Overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 169

Martin has become a very serviceable fourth-liner for the Isles and has proved to be a great pick. After being drafted he returned to his junior team, the Sarnia Sting, for one more season before making the jump to Bridgeport.

In his first season at the AHL level (2009-10) he recorded 31 points and 113 penalty minutes. That season he also appeared in five games with the Islanders. He then started the 2010-11 season in Bridgeport, but only lasted seven games before he was called up to the Islanders to finish the season, recording 14 points in 68 games to go along with 147 penalty minutes. Last year he played in 80 games with the Isles scoring seven goals and adding seven helpers and 121 penalty minutes. 

Hopefully Martin will continue to be a very reliable fourth-liner and contribute to the team with his bone crushing hits. He is also not afraid to drop the mitts and stand up for his teammates.

Jared Spurgeon, D, Spokane Chiefs (WHL) – 6th Round, 156th Overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 129

The Islanders made a big mistake by letting this diminutive defenseman slip away into the hands of the Minnesota Wild. After he aged out of junior, he was unsigned by the Islanders and he earned an invite to the Wild's training camp. He was inked to an entry-level contract and from there he played 23 games with their AHL affiliate the Houston Aeros before being called up to the Wild for the remainder of the season. Last year was a breakout season for him as he played 70 games for the Wild and became their powerplay quarterback.

Sometimes players get away and that is what happened with his young defenseman. The Islanders will move on without him and have many other defensive prospects that will make them forget about Spurgeon.

Justin DiBenedetto, C, Sarnia Sting (OHL) – 6th Round, 175th Overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 8

Last but not least, there is Justin DiBenedetto, who left the Islanders organization at the end of the 2011-12 season. After being drafted he spent another season lighting up the OHL with the Sarnia Sting. He then joined Bridgeport where he spent three seasons (2009-2012) steadily improving his statistics each year. During the 2010-11 season he played eight games with Islanders and recorded an assist. He decided to not return to Bridgeport this season and instead joined EC Salzburg of Austria.