Since joining the league in 1996, the Coyotes franchise has been a part of nineteen NHL drafts in which they selected future talent that would aim to bring them a Stanley Cup to cherish for eternity. Out of those nineteen drafts, twenty four players were selected in the first round to represent the Coyotes on the ice in Arizona. Can you name all twenty four? I’ll be impressed if you can; but if you can’t, here’s a brief refresher. Now just a side note, the 1996 NHL Draft took place on June 22 and the Winnipeg Jets did not officially change their name to the Phoenix Coyotes until July 1st.
- In their first year in the league, the Phoenix Coyotes selected one guy that was decent and one guy that was a bust. Dan Focht was drafted 11th overall in 1996 but unfortunately played only 18 games for the Coyotes with a total of 0 points. Daniel Briere on the other hand was a different story. Through 258 games, Briere tallied up 146 points with a 60 point season in 2001. Briere currently plays for the Colorado Avalanche.
1997: No first round draft pick
1998: Patrick DesRochers (G)
- DesRochers was another pick that did not pan out in the Coyotes favor. Only suiting up for 9 games he managed to win only one. With a goals against around 3.70 and a save percentage flirting between .850 and .875, he was mediocre at best.
- Another first round bust for the Coyotes. Scott Kelman never suited up for the Coyotes…or any NHL team for that matter. Safronov did Kelman one better; literally only one game better. After his single game with the team, Safronov was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers. He now plays in the KHL over in Russia.
2000: Krystofer Kolanos (C)
- In 109 games through four seasons with the team, Kolanos put up 35 points. While his stats with the Coyotes were not great, one point during his rookie season is shown on every Coyotes highlight reel. Take a look at when Kolanos embarrassed hall of fame goaltender Patrick Roy on a penalty shot:
2001: Fredrik Sjostrom (L/RW)
- This Swedish winger had a brief stint with the Coyotes like most of the first rounders before him. With 261 games under his belt, Sjostrom accumulated 73 points. Sjostrom was then traded to the New York Rangers and ultimately finished his career back home in Sweden.
- 2002 was a rough year for the two Coyotes first rounders. Neither played a game with the ‘Yotes and Koreis never even played a game for the NHL. Instead, Koreis took his talents over to Finland where he still plays to this day. Eager was involved in a three man trade to Philadelphia for center Mike Comrie before the season even started.
2003: No first round draft pick
2004: Blake Wheeler (RW)
- The Coyotes were ultimately left in the dust after drafting Blake Wheeler. Wheeler was a little picky with the team that selected him and couldn’t come to terms with a contract. The Boston Bruins ended up signing Wheeler to an entry level deal after the Coyotes offered him a maximum entry level contract. The fifth overall pick currently plays for the Winnipeg Jets and scored an impressive 69 points last season.
2005: Martin Hanzal (C)
- Hanzal is the first player to appear in this article that currently plays for the Coyotes. With the alternate captain “A” on his sweater, Hanzal is looked upon by his teammates for leadership on and off the ice. In 456 games the Czech Republic native was held accountable for 222 points (80 goals and 142 assists). At six feet, six inches; Hanzal is able to set up obstructive screens to reduce the goaltender’s vision.
- Mueller (a prominant member of Team USA in the World Junior Championships) was with the Coyotes for three seasons where he played 207 games and scored 107 points before moving on to the Colorado Avalanche. Chris Summers, just like Hanzal, is currently with the team. While flopping between the Arizona Coyotes and the Portland Pirates, Summers is still tuning up his game. The defenseman has a total of 47 games with the ‘Yotes and is responsible for 2 goals and 4 assists.
- Kyle Turris is another big name that the Coyotes were unable to hold on to. Turris did not fit in with the team and made it clear to management that he wanted out of the desert. After 137 games, 46 points, and a contract holdout; Turris exited Glendale and headed to Ottawa where he put up a 58 point season in 2013. Nick Ross is another player that never skated for the Coyotes. Ross never played an NHL game and ended up finishing his hockey career in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (German Ice Hockey League).
- Boedker is still with the Coyotes and is showing immense growth after each season he plays. The highest drafted Danish player finished last season with a career high 51 points as he continually shows promise for the years to come. Tikhonov only played one season with the Coyotes where he notched 8 goals and 8 assists before heading to the KHL.
2009: Oliver Ekman-Larsson (D)
- One of the best first round draft picks in franchise history, Ekman-Larsson is making waves early at the ripe age of 23. This offensive defenseman puts his team in a position to win each time he steps on the ice. Last season with the Coyotes he contributed 44 points to the team. Watch for him to score even more this October.
- These two picks are currently being groomed by the Portland Pirates in preparation for seasons to come in Arizona. Gormley has only five NHL games under his belt with the Coyotes but with his development in Portland, he should be ready for the big leagues in the next few years. Mark Visentin is the future of Coyotes goaltending. When Mike Smith is gone, Visentin will take the reins. Visentin has played only one game with the Coyotes but with his skills in Portland, he will be ready for the big leagues around the same time as Gormley. Visentin’s “on the fly” saves like this one in the World Junior Championships, show promise for the future of Coyotes goaltending:
2011: Connor Murphy (D)
- Murphy is a young guy who is seizing every moment he has with the Coyotes organization. As a successful defenseman for Team USA in the World Junior Championships, Murphy displays the same athleticism and drive to win for the ‘Yotes. Last season he laced up his skates for 30 games and managed to produce 8 points. This kid should be able to make a pairing for the Coyotes this coming season.
2012: Henrik Samuelsson (RW)
- Samuelsson has yet to experience the electricity of Jobing.com Arena but from his hard work at development camp, this year may be his year. As a member of the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings, Henrik Samuelsson cranked out an astonishing 198 points (75 goals and 123 assists) in only 162 games. Samuelsson led his team to a Memorial Cup victory last season with 23 points in 21 playoff games.
2013: Max Domi (C)
- Domi is one of the most highly anticipated skaters in Arizona’s organization and with an excellent performance at this year’s development camp, he may see some ice time with the ‘Yotes. Last season with the London Knights, Domi accumulated 93 points (34 goals and 59 assists) in 61 games. Hopefully he can put up those kind of numbers for the Coyotes in the future.
2014: Brendan Perlini (LW)
- As the new kid in the Arizona Coyotes organization its hard to gauge how well Perlini will do in the upcoming seasons. By signing a three year entry level contract, general manager Don Maloney sees something in the kid that can be beneficial for the Coyotes franchise. Fresh out of the OHL last season, Perlini totaled 71 points in 58 games.
The first round of the NHL draft has been a roller coaster filled with highs and lows for this organization. From players who never stepped foot on NHL ice to skaters who show skill and promise; the Coyotes have seen at all. With a surge of talent in the most recent rounds, players like Connor Murphy, Henrik Samuelsson, Max Domi, and Brendan Perlini will make an impact sooner rather than later for the Coyotes. It will be interesting to see which player shines this October.