Phoenix Coyotes NHL Draft Redux - 1996

He may not have been the Coyotes first pick of 1996, but Daniel Briere was one of the better selections in the early draft years.

With the 2011 Draft coming up we'll be taking a look back at some of the good and, well, not so good years the Coyotes have had at the draft. you might, I said MIGHT, notice a difference in quality once Keith Gretzky came on in scouting and even more when Don Maloney became GM. 

In 1996 the Phoenix Coyotes were just getting ready for their first season in the Valley of the Sun. They had a fancy Kachina themed logo that everyone loved and would surely make for one of the best logos and jerseys of all time. The third jerseys were especially great.

FUN FACT: Did you know that Phoenix got the team from somewhere else? That's right, they moved here from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and were once called the Jets. WHO KNEW!?

Now, having been in high school in Arizona at the time I can tell you this. I have no idea if there was any hype leading up to the draft at all or who said hype would have been about. I do know this. The first overall pick? Chris Phillips. Just guessing this wasn't the deepest draft ever. The Coyotes even had two first round picks to play with in their first year of existence. Who would they use them on?

Round 1 - 11th Overall Pick - Defenseman Dan Focht

Right now you're trying to think of how to insert Focht into some sort of joke using a similar F word because you have no idea who Dan Focht is. Me neither. He'd eventually play a handful of games for the Coyotes (18 Total) before being traded to Pittsburgh in the 2002-2003 season in a deal for Jan Hrdina. He retired in 2006 from the AHL's Rochester Americans after a total of 82 NHL games played. I think he is part of an Appliance company in Saskatchewan now. No, seriously. 

Round 1 - 24th Overall Pick - Center Daniel Briere

Actually a solid pick for the Coyotes organization, the smallish center made up for his size with some impressive stick work and ability to score out of nowhere. He's an excellent puck mover that gets mountains of assists as well and when healthy is nearly a point per game guy. Unfortunately, he does so for the Philadelphia Flyers now as the lovely management of the Coyotes headed by Cliff Fletcher Or Mike Barnett at the time (Like it matters, they're both pretty dim bulbs) decided they'd rather not pay the young player and shipped him and a 3rd Round pick off to Buffalo at the 2002 trade deadline for Chris Gratton and a 4th round pick. Barnett would later be compared to Daryl Sutter in several blog posts once such things became popular. 

More Picks after the Jump!

Round 3 - 62nd Overall - Defenseman Per-Anton Lundstrom

The 6'2" defenseman would never play a game in the NHL. He still plays today, only in the Allsvenskan which is basically the AHL to the Swedish Elite League. His biggest accomplishment of note was being the most penalized player in the 2002-2003 Elitserien Playoffs. 

Round 5 - 119th Overall - Defenseman Richard Lintner

A journeyman player that has bounced all over the world, Lintner actually saw some time in the NHL with the Nashville Predators after the Coyotes traded him and Cliff Ronning to the Preds for...nothing. Future considerations. That was it. Lintner would play 112 total NHL games between the Preds and the New York Rangers. Today, he's still playing, now in the Finnish SM-Liiga for SaiPa. He's also played for the Slovakia National Team a few times and was to play in the 2010 olympics but was replaced before the games by Ivan Baranka

Round 6 - 139th Overall - Goaltender Robert Esche

Hey, I remember that guy! He played sporadically for the team and mostly backed up current Coyotes goalie coach Sean Burke from 1999-2002. He was traded to Philadelphia for Brian Boucher and Michal Handzus. He currently plays in the KHL for Dinamo Minsk.

FUN FACT: Esche picked up the nickname "Chico" after former Flyer Chico Resch because his sticks are labeled R. Esche. 

Round 7 - 174th Overall - Right Wing Trevor Letowski

Though a late pick, he actually appeared in more games that anyone but Briere in the Coyotes 1996 Draft Class with 616 total NHL games played. Playing for about 2 and a half full seasons for the Coyotes and then bouncing around the league with the Vancouver Canucks, Columbus Blue Jackets and Carolina Hurricanes. He then went on to play a couple seasons in the KHL with Barys Astana before returning to the team he played for in Juniors, the Sarnia Sting, to be an assistant Coach in 2010. He's now the head coach there. 

Round 8 - 200th Overall - Right Wing Nick Lent

Had an okay career at Providence College and then bounced around the minors mostly at the ECHL level. Now Vice President at Advanced Graphics in Boston, MA

Round 9 - 226th Overall - Center Marc-Etienne Hubert

I have no idea who this guy is. Played in juniors until he wasn't allowed to anymore and then continued playing for University of Quebec Three-Rivers and played one year in the French Pro hockey league. He was also an assistant coach in the QJMHL for the Chicoutimi Sagueens in the 2008-09 season.

Not a super draft class for the Coyotes, but not the worst as they actually had a few guys play for the big club. Unfortunately the one player with any success had to go elsewhere to have it thanks to some iffy, at best management and GMs that had no clue what they were doing. Briere and a 3rd for Gratton and a 4th? Worst. 

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