First Round Draft Ghosts Haunt Coyotes

By pbadmin

With players like Teemu Selanne, Keith Tkachuk, Alexei Zhamnov, the Phoenix Coyotes/Winnipeg
Jets franchise had at one moment assembled one of the deepest talent pools in the NHL.
Were they that adapt at drafting or did it just happen that they got lucky?
The Coyotes/Jets franchise has been unable to rebuild their franchise effectively through the draft. A lot of this lack of success can be directly attributed to their poor use of their first round selections.
After drafting Keith Tkachuk in 1990, it has a long time before the Coyotes drafted anyone of significance with their first round pick. Case and point was the Sergei Bautin fiasco back in 1993. Back in 1992 Mike Smith then GM of the Jets decided that the best player available with their 17th pick overall was the then 25 year-old Sergei Bautin a rugged defensive defenseman. Needless to say, that move backfired and within four seasons and a trade to Detroit, Sergei was out of the NHL entirely. He will go down in history for the Jets/Coyotes as the worst draft pick in franchise history (Some Jimmy Mann critics may disagree) and provides a clear example of how pathetic this team was at the draft table during the first round for much of the decade.
Crying over spilt milk over a player drafted almost a decade ago? Probably, but it just emphasized management’s inability to turn draft picks into valued assets. Without the recent development of Shane Doan, the Coyotes might have gone 0-10 with their first round picks for the 90’s. It gets worse when you consider the Coyotes have also traded for and given up on first round picks in the likes of Chad Kilger and Oleg Tverdovsky. Desrochers, Kelman, and Safronov still rate as fairly decent prospects however, fellow first rounders Focht and Briere are entering the make-it or break-it stages of their careers with mixed results at best that they will have solid careers in the NHL. Picks in 94 and 97 were given up in deals for Dave Manson and Jeremy Roenick. The Coyotes/Jets threw in their first pick in 93 Mats Lindgren in the failed deal for Manson. Aaron Ward was dealt in another move by the Jets, who shipped the 5th overall pick in 1991 for Paul Ysebaert.

Coyotes Top 15 Prospects (Five Better than the Hockey News)

1) Kiril Safronov 19, 6-2, 200 Defense rating 8.5


1999-2000 (QMJHL) 53-11-30-41-93
1998-1999 (RUS) 35-1-1-2-26

Safronov was the top rated European European defenseman by most scouts last season for good reason. He plays a solid say at home defensive game and is capable of effectively clearing the crease. He projects to be a solid top 2 defenseman.

2) Daniel Briere 22, 5-9, 185 Center rating 7.5


1999-2000 (AHL) 49-26-33-59-40
1998-1999 (NHL) 64-8-14-22-30
(AHL) 13-2-6-8-20
(IHL) 1-1-1-2-0

Make it or break it time for Briere. Briere must be on one of the top two lines to play effectively in the NHL. If he fails to make the roster as a top 6 skilled forward he may find himself playing in another city. He plays a soft game and is often the target of aggressive checking by opposing teams. Briere has the skills to put together a 30 goal season in the NHL.

3) Patrick Desrochers 20, 6-3, 195 Goalie rating 7


1999-2000 (AHL) 17-14-7-9.01
1998-1999 (OHL) 17-27-3-.892

Still terribly inconsistent Desrochers demonstrates the potential to be a solid netminder one night only to respond by showing he would have trouble backing up a senior team. A huge man, Desrochers covers a lot of net. Coyotes would be hopeful that Desrochers develops along the lines of Buffalo Sabre prospect Martin Biron who also struggled with his consistency early on in his career.

4) Ossi Vaananen 19, 6-2, 200 Defense rating 7


1999-2000 (FIN) 45-1-5-6-44
1998-1999 (FIN) 48-0-1-1-42

Another sound defensive defenseman. He will be a top 4 defenseman in the NHL.

5) Robert Esche 22, 6-2, 212 Goalie rating 7


1999-2000 (AHL) 4-6-2-9.06
1998-1999 (AHL) 24-20-6-.905

Esche’s only problem is that he doesn’t have the last name Desrochers. Esche would receive greater opportunity if the Coyotes were not so determined to offer Desrochers minutes. He should be the backup goaltender for Phoenix next season.

6) Scott Kelman 18, 6-3, 197 Center rating 6.5


1999-2000 (WHL) 61-13-39-52-90
1998-1999 (WHL) 51-19-54-73-95

Kelman has yet to start showing some of the promise he presented in being a first round pick last season. He was billed a a outstanding playmaker with great hockey sense. This season those outstanding plays have been few and far between. Coyotes hope he develops a la Steve Ruchin however right now he doesn’t project to be any better than a 3rd line center in the NHL with very limited offensive capabilities.

7) Juha Gustafsson 20, 6-3, 200 Defense rating 6


1999-2000 (FIN) 33-1-4-5-26
1998-1999 (FIN) 37-3-7-10-36

Gustafson is yet another stay at home defenseman for the Coyotes. He should be a top 5 defenseman in the NHL.

8) Tavis Hansen 24, 6-1, 205 Right Wing rating 6


1999-2000 (AHL) 47-20-24-44-145
1998-1999 (AHL) 63-23-11-34-85
(NHL) 20-2-1-3-12

Don’t be surprised to see this gritty forward playing somewhere in the NHL next season. He won’t be a star but he will be a solid fourth liner capable of potting in 10 goals with the right bounces.

9) Jason Jaspers 18, 5-11, 185 Center rating 6


1999-2000 (OHL) 64-43-55-98-99
1998-1999 (OHL) 68-28-33-61-81

The Coyotes would be ecstatic if their first round pick from the same draft Scott Kelman showed the offensive brilliance displayed by Jaspers this season. If Jaspers were an inch bigger and 5 pounds heavier he would be a future star in the NHL. Coyotes are hoping he’ll grow and develop in the mold of a Rene Corbet.

10) Brad Ralph 19, 6-2, 198 Left Wing rating 5.5


1999-2000 (OHL) 55-28-35-63-68
1998-1999 (OHL) 67-31-44-75-93

Ralph started off this season very strong only to cool off halfway through the season. He has potential to be a grinding forward in the NHL. He has to work on his consistency.

11) Robert Schnabel 21, 6-6, 233 Defense rating 5.5


1999-2000 (AHL) 34-2-8-10-118
1998-1999 (AHL) 77-1-7-8-9-155

This monstrous defenseman was really starting to come into his own before a potential career-ending eye injury hit him halfway through the season. If he is able to recover, Schnabel may be with the Coyotes within two seasons.

12) Dan Focht 23, 6-6, 226 Defense rating 5


1999-2000 (AHL) 31-2-7-9-68
1998-1999 (AHL) 30-0-2-2-58

If this giant d-man would remain healthy enough to develop over a full season the Coyotes may actually be able to get a good read on him. Drafted by the Coyotes in 1995, Focht was seen as a long-term project. At this rate he won’t be with the parent club before his 26th birthday. So far the first ever draft pick by the Phoenix franchise has been a severe bust.

13) Philippe Audet 23,6-2,175 Left Wing rating 5


1999-2000 (AHL) n/a-19-22-41-115
1998-1999 (AHL) 70-20-20-40-77

Audet scores goals. Not much of anything else. If he can play on one of your top two lines he should be able to produce and play effectively. Rather small to play in the NHL.

14) Ryan Lauzon 19, 5-10-, 185 Center rating 5


1999-2000 (QMJHL) 45-22-33-55-35
1998-1999 (QMJHL) 57-21-47-68-36

Lauzon had a knee injury that prevented him from trying out for Canada’s National Team. Still very small by NHL standards.

15) Sean Gagnon 27, 6-2, 210 Defense rating 4.5


1999-2000 (FIN) n/a
1998-1999 (AHL) 68-8-14-22-331

Gagnon is an aggressive punishing defenseman playing in Europe. Needless to say he leads the league in penalty minutes and suspensions. Sent over by the Coyotes to improve his puck handling skills Gagnon is yet another in a long list of defensive defeseman prospects for the Coyotes.

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