Even as a young franchise, the Phoenix Coyotes have managed to find plenty of players who have made significant contributions to the team. Here are what I consider to be the top five selections the front office has made in the club's 16-year history at the draft.
(Disclaimer: As he was drafted by the team while they were in Winnipeg in 1995, Shane Doan was not considered for this list. Had he been, Doaner would have been the obvious #1 choice. So no, I didn't forget him; I simply chose to stick within the time period of draft selections while in Phoenix).
5. Mikkel Boedker (RW - Drafted 1st Round, 8th Overall in 2008)
Although Boedker is very young and has not really established himself as a goal scorer in the way that many hoped he would, Boeds makes this list for one reason, or two actually. His two overtime game winners against Chicago back in the 2012 Western Conference Quarterfinals were arguably the biggest reasons that the Coyotes finally snapped their playoff series victory drought. Boedker has also regularly earned Top 6 minutes and has become a versatile playmaker and two-way forward.
4. Martin Hanzal (C - Drafted 1st Round, 17th Overall in 2005)
A stalwart in the middle of the ice, Martin Hanzal was the Coyotes' selection in a draft that featured the likes of Sidney Crosby, Bobby Ryan, Carey Price, and Tuukka Rask. Hanzal is a huge presence in front of the net for the Coyotes, and has been the team's number one center for several seasons now. Although he is not known for scoring goals at a relentless pace, Hanzal had one of his best statistical years in a season that only featured 48 games. Hanzal will likely be around the Coyotes organization for a long time, as he provides a combination of size and skill that is sorely lacking from the current incarnation of the team.
3. Danny Briere (C - Drafted 1st Round, 24th Overall in 1996)
While many Coyotes fans remember Briere's time with the Desert Dogs more for the inauspicious circumstances for which he was traded, Briere actually spent over six seasons with the club, during which he put up 71 goals and 78 assists. Regrettably Briere did not last long enough with the Phoenix Coyotes to make a substantial impression, but his selection was a rare hit for a team that struggled at times to find and develop offensive talent.
2. Oliver Ekman-Larsson (D - Drafted 1st Round, 6th Overall in 2009)
Ask me again in another year or two, and OEL will likely top this list. He is one of the most complete players the Coyotes have ever drafted and has put up dazzling numbers in his first two full seasons in the NHL. The question seems not to be if OEL will win the Norris Trophy in his career but rather "how many"? And with a new six-year contract under his belt, OEL will be patrolling the Phoenix blueline for a long time to come.
1. Keith Yandle (D - Drafted 4th Round - 105th Overall in 2005)
There was comparatively little reason to believe Yandle would go on to do big things when he was selected in the 4th round. He declined to enroll at the University of New Hampshire and instead went to the QMJHL. He then spent two seasons developing his game in San Antonio. The wait paid off, as Yandle his been one of the most consistent contributors to the Coyotes' offense since he arrived in the big leagues. He has played in every game since the 2009-10 season, is a two time All-Star, and has a contract that keeps him in Phoenix for another three years. Although he has the occasional defensive lapse, Yandle has beaten the odds to become one of the Coyotes' most important players.