The warm weather of Arizona contrasts greatly with the cold winters of Winnipeg, but the two locales will always be connected in the history books of the NHL.
The Winnipeg Jets entered the NHL in 1979 and spent 17 seasons in Manitoba before moving to Phoenix in 1996. Would you believe the Coyotes are wrapping up their 23rd season in the desert? Yet it’s the Jets who hold a 14-6 edge in players who make the franchise’s all-time draft team.
It all starts with the first line. Imagine playmaker supreme Dale Hawerchuk between snipers Teemu Selanne and Keith Tkachuk? That combo would be crafty, creative and mean all at once. All were first-round draft picks within a 10-year window.
The franchise’s right wing was so deep, we moved left-shooting Brian Mullen over to the left wing, where he made the second line with Daniel Briere, the second Phoenix draft pick in 1996, at center and Blake Wheeler on the starboard side. Wheeler brings this discussion full circle: drafted by the Coyotes but now playing and starring in Winnipeg with the second edition of the Jets.
The fourth line is an intriguing one. We eschewed dynamic center Alexei Zhamnov (719 points in 807 NHL games) in favor of defensive specialist and four-time Stanley Cup champion Kris Draper. And he has the productive and reliable Shane Doan on the right wing because of all the depth at that position.
The franchise’s defense is loaded with 1,000-plus game men who played heavy minutes in their prime – three European and three North Americans. Oliver Ekman-Larsson is the only one of the group shy of 1,000 games, but he might end up top of the list if we’re to do this again in five years. Some of the names who didn’t make the top six include Bryan Marchment, Aaron Ward, Boris Mironov, Tim Watters, Moe Mantha and Igor Ulanov.
The crease is tended well by Nikolai Khabibulin, who played for both the Jets and Coyotes, and Bob Essensa, who was a reliable backup for most of his NHL career.
Information includes draft year, draft position, amateur team and NHL stats (games-goals-assists-points; W-L-OTL, GAA, SP)
Dale Hawerchuk – 1981, 1st overall, Cornwall (QMJHL) (1,188-518-891-1,409)
Daniel Briere – 1996, 24th overall, Drumm’ville (QMJHL) (973-307-389-696)
Thomas Steen – 1979, 103rd overall, Leksand (Swe.) (950-264-553-817)
Kris Draper – 1989, 62nd overall, Can. national team (1,157-161-203-364)
Keith Tkachuk – 1990, 19th overall, Malden (USHS) (1,201-538-527-1,065)
Brian Mullen – 1980, 128th overall, U.S. under-18 team (832-260-362-622)
Mikkel Boedker – 2008, 8th overall, Kitchener (OHL) (729-120-211-331)
Daniel Winnik – 2004, 265th overall, New Hampshire (HE) (798-82-169-251)
Teemu Selanne – 1988, 10th overall, Jokerit (Fin.) (1,451-684-773-1,457)
Blake Wheeler – 2004, 5th overall, Breck (USHS) (1,002-286-540-826)
Dave Christian – 1979, 40th overall, N. Dakota (WCHA) (1,009-340-433-773)
Shane Doan – 1995, 7th overall, Kamloops (WHL) (1,540-402-570-972)
Dave Babych – 1980, 2nd overall, Portland (WHL) (1,195-142-581-723)
Fredrik Olausson – 1985, 81st overall, Farjestad (Swe.) (1,022-147-434-581)
Teppo Numminen – 1986, 29th overall, Tappara (Fin.) (1,372-117-520-637)
Oliver Ekman-Larsson – 2009, 6th overall, Leksand (Swe.) (789-134-260-394)
Keith Yandle – 2005, 105th overall, Cushing (USHS) (1,045-104-514-618)
Dave Ellett – 1982, 75th overall, Ottawa (Jr. A) (1,129-153-415-568)
Nikolai Khabibulin – 1992, 204th overall, CSKA (Rus.) (333-334-97, 2.72, .907)
Bob Essensa – 1983, 69th overall, Henry Carr (CAHS) (173-176-47, 3.15, .895)