Having traded away their second and third round picks, it was pertinent that the Edmonton Oilers made their remaining 2008 draft selections count. This was Kevin Lowe's last NHL draft as the Oilers' General Manager and based on the 2008 draft class' overall success thus far, it appears that he chose a good quality group of prospects for his successor Steve Tambellini to work with.
Jordan Eberle has been a mainstay on the Oilers roster while teammate Teemu Hartikainen is reaping the benefits of his hard work in his first season as a regular contributor to the Oilers at the NHL level. Philippe Cornet continues to shine with the Oilers' farm team, the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL. The Oilers' remaining two picks from the 2008 class, Johan Motin and Jordan Bendfeld, have unfortunately fallen off the prospect radar, but both were selected deep into the draft and were gambles at the NHL level.
Jordan Eberle, RW, Regina Pats (WHL) – 1st round, 22nd overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 170
As with any first round pick, the Edmonton Oilers had high hopes when they drafted the 5'10 winger from the Regina Pats of the WHL. In his draft year, he led the Pats in points, scoring 42 goals and logging 33 assists, making him a valuable goal-scoring asset to the Oilers club. He spent the next two seasons with the Pats and in 2009-10 he racked up 106 points in 57 games, second in the WHL by only one point.
Eberle signed an entry-level contract with the Oilers in 2009 and played a handful of games with the Springfield Falcons before making his NHL debut during the Oilers' season opener in the 2010-11 season. In that game, he scored a highlight-reel-worthy first goal that was talked about for weeks following. Since then, he has been a steady driving force on the rebuilding Oilers squad and recently signed a six-year contract extension with the team. He was also nominated for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for the 2011-12 season.
The 2012-13 lockout delayed the start of the NHL season and Eberle found himself playing with the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL to keep his game sharp while CBA talks continued. In 34 games, he logged 25 goals and 26 assists for 51 points and led the AHL in scoring for nearly a month after making his return to the NHL. Thus far, he has not been able to carry over the one-and-a-half points per game rate that he was playing at with OKC, chalking up 17 points in 23 games thus far with the Oilers. He was however promoted to a leadership role with the club, earning the title of Alternate Captain along with linemate Taylor Hall and defenseman Nick Schultz.
Johan Motin, D, Farjestad (SEL) – 4th round, 103rd overall
NHL Games Played: 1
Johan Motin was drafted as a defensive prospect in the fourth round of the 2008 NHL Draft. He had been playing with the Swedish Farjestad club in a shut-down defensive role and was putting up mediocre offensive numbers. He signed an entry-level contract with the Oilers in 2009 and played 55 games with the AHL's Springfield Falcons during the 2009-10 season, as well as one emergency call-up game for the Oilers in which he registered no points.
In the 2010-11 season, he continued playing in the Oilers' minor league system. He had one goal and three assists with the Barons and a minus-seven rating in 34 games before being relegated to the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL in March of 2011. His development curve seemed to plateau and his offensive production and skating skills looked about the same as they did when he was drafted in 2008.
In November of 2011, Motin returned to his native Sweden and signed with Timra IK of the Swedish Elite League. His return to North America is looking unlikely. He fits the mold of a European player and seems to be content playing in Sweden.
Philippe Cornet, LW, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL) – 5th round, 133rd overall
NHL Games Played: 2
Philippe Cornet was coming off of his best junior season to date when he was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in 2008. He registered 23 goals and 26 assists with the Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL in 2007-08. He continued his point production throughout the 2008-09 season with 29 goals and 48 assists in 63 games, besting his numbers from the previous year.
During the offseason, he was traded to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and was a top-scorer for the QMJHL club in the 2009-10 season. He signed an entry-level contract with the Oilers in May of 2010, reporting to the Oklahoma City Barons for the 2010-11 season. His offensive numbers dwindled a bit in his first professional year, registering only 23 points in 60 games. 2011-12 saw improvement for Cornet, who had 24 goals and 13 assists in 67 games with the Oklahoma City Barons. He was selected for the AHL All-Star Game and was called up to play in two games with the Edmonton Oilers.
In the 2012-13 season, Cornet has been in the lineup for both the OKC Barons and the Stockton Thunder, dressing for 25 and 18 games with each club, respectively. His offensive production has remained consistent, logging 17 points with the Barons and 23 points with the Thunder. The Oilers have an abundance of talent on the wing at the NHL level, so cracking the roster may be a tough feat for Cornet at this point. However, he has shown that he can be relied upon in an emergency call-up situation for the Oilers club.
Teemu Hartikainen, C, KalPa Jr. (Finland Jr.) – 6th round, 163rd overall
NHL Games Played: 45
As a sixth round draft pick, Teemu Hartikainen was a longshot for the NHL in 2008. He had been playing with KalPa's junior squad in Finland and was putting up average offensive numbers, with 17 points in 37 games in the 2007-08 season. He had also been called up to play in a game for KalPa Kuopio's top club but did not register any points.
For the two following seasons, Hartikainen was a regular member of KalPa’s lineup and steadily increased his point production, with 23 points in 51 games in 2008-09 and 33 points in 53 games in 2009-10. He was also named to Finland's World Junior squad in 2009, leading the team in scoring in that tournament, and 2010, where he was the second-leading scorer for Finland. He signed an entry-level contract with Edmonton in the off-season and made the trip across the pond to North America.
Since signing his contract, Hartikainen has been on the fast track to NHL success. He made his NHL debut in the 2010-11 as a call up for the Oilers and played in a total of 12 games, totaling five points with the NHL squad. He also logged 42 points in 66 games with the Oklahoma City Barons to cap off a very respectable pro debut for the young left winger. In 2011-12, Hartikainen was assigned to Oklahoma City following the conclusion of the Oilers training camp. He played the majority of the season with the Barons, but was called up to the Oilers for a total of 17 games and collected five points on three goals and two assists.
Hartikainen has earned himself a regular spot on the Oilers roster for the 2012-13 season, which is no small feat for a player that was a long shot sixth-round draft pick just five years prior. Before suffering a shoulder injury in February 2013, Hartikainen was looking solid for the Oilers, especially in the defensive zone. He has the size, skill, and perspective to maintain his position on the Oilers lineup and if he is able to stay healthy, his offensive production should continue to steadily increase.
Jordan Bendfeld, D, Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL) – 7th round, 193rd overall
NHL Games Played: 0
Jordan Bendfeld is somewhat of a draft pick anomaly. After being drafted 152nd overall by the Phoenix Coyotes in 2006, he was re-entered into the 2008 draft after going unsigned by Phoenix. The Oilers picked up the Medicine Hat Tiger in the seventh round as a gritty defensive prospect.
Bendfeld made his pro debut in 2008-09 with the Stockton Thunder and played in 17 games. He continued to play the bulk of his games in Stockton throughout the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons and spent more time in the penalty box than on the ice it seemed, averaging over three minutes in penalties per game in 2010-11 with the Thunder. Although his role with the club was mainly that of an enforcer, Bendfeld made some improvements to his defensive play, registering a plus-seven rating in the same season, which was a big improvement from his minus-12 in 2009-10. He also played in 16 games for the Oklahoma City Barons in 2010-11, but failed to register a point in any of them.
He has since dropped off of the radar entirely and is no longer playing for either of the Oilers' feeder teams.