Hindsight is an amazing thing, and allows us to look back and wonder “what could have been.” Though perfection is attempted, scouting and draft selection is far from an exact science and sometimes, it doesn’t work out the way teams – or players – intended. For every Patrick Kane, there is a Patrik Stefan.
Our look back at the 2006 NHL Entry Draft is now in full swing as we poll the PHR community to see who would have been selected in the first round and in what order knowing what we know now. Through the first seven picks, we’ve already seen potential Hall of Fame players switch teams, and multiple captains move up and down the draft board.
1st Overall: Jonathan Toews (St. Louis Blues)
2nd Overall: Claude Giroux (Pittsburgh Penguins)
3rd Overall: Nicklas Backstrom (Chicago Blackhawks)
4th Overall: Brad Marchand (Washington Capitals)
5th Overall: Phil Kessel (Boston Bruins)
6th Overall: Jordan Staal (Columbus Blue Jackets)
7th Overall: Milan Lucic (New York Islanders)
Lucic edged out original Islanders pick Kyle Okposo for the seventh slot, becoming the second player in our top 10 that was actually drafted outside of the first round entirely. The Bruins, who then selected Kessel with the fifth-overall selection, found both Lucic and Marchand in the later rounds. The big, bruising Vancouver Giants forward had scored just 19 points in his first full season of CHL hockey but would develop his offensive game at an incredible rate over the next few years. Lucic would score a career-high 30 goals with the Bruins in 2010-11, mixing a devastating physical game with underrated offensive skills to be one of the league’s most unique talents. Though his scoring dropped off last season, the Edmonton Oilers are hoping that he’ll be able to find some of that previous magic and earn his current contract.
Now we’ll move forward to the eighth pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, which was held by the then named Phoenix Coyotes.
Back in 2006 the Coyotes were coming off the first season with Wayne Gretzky behind the bench, and had finished with a respectable 38-39-5 record. Though they were still ten points out of playoff contention, a 29-year old Shane Doan and 25-year old Mike Comrie had both provided 30-goal seasons. An aging Curtis Joseph would be part of their regression the next season, but there was plenty of excitement around their selection of potential top-line center Peter Mueller. Mueller had already starred for USA Hockey at the development level and on the international stage, and would do so again after being drafted when he went toe-to-toe against Jonathan Toews in a wildly popular shootout.
Mueller exploded onto the NHL scene in 2007-08 with Phoenix, scoring 22 goals and 54 points as a teenaged-rookie and gave the franchise a lot of hope for the future. Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be though for the big center, who flamed out quickly and would find himself in Switzerland by the 2013-14 season after failing to make an impression with both the Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers. Mueller played in Austria last season, where he recorded 42 points in 38 games and was a point-per-game player in the playoffs.
As we look back, it’s unlikely that the Coyotes would choose Mueller again knowing what we know now. With several other talented players still on the board, will they still try to secure the center position? With the eighth pick of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, who should the Phoenix Coyotes select? Cast your vote below!
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