Drafting quality forwards has not been easy for the Arizona Coyotes. From Fredrik Sjostrom to Ben Eager to Peter Mueller, finding high-end forwards on draft day has been a struggle. While former first round picks Blake Wheeler and Kyle Turris went on to be bonafide top-six forwards, they did it after leaving the Valley of the Sun.
However, the Coyotes did a better job finding blueliners, especially as of late. In four consecutive drafts (2008-2011), the Coyotes selected Michael Stone, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Brandon Gormley and Connor Murphy, all expected to be in Arizona's top-six next season. But their best selection may have come in 2005 when the Coyotes excavated Keith Yandle from the depths of the fourth round and developed him into one of the best offensive defensemen in the game.
With all the success drafting defensemen, it is no surprise that the final match-up of the greatest draft pick of all time tournament comes down to a pair of blueliners.
(1) Keith Yandle
(2) Oliver Ekman-Larsson
How elite are Yandle's offensive numbers? Over the past five seasons, the alternate captain's 226 points are third among all NHL defensemen, only behind Duncan Keith (242) and Erik Karlsson (237). Yandle is also as reliable as they come, not missing a single game in five seasons.
The 27-year-old's 270 career points places him 18th all time in Jets/Coyotes NHL history and sixth among defensemen. Not bad for a fourth round pick.
OEL has wormed his way into the hearts of Coyotes fans with his skill set and strong two-way play, en route to becoming a fan favorite.
The young Swede has blossomed into Arizona's No. 1 defenseman, playing the most minutes and against the toughest competition. He is an integral part of both the power play and penalty kill and fits the old cliche of a player you want on the ice up or down a goal in the final minute.
Ekman-Larsson's 111 points in 258 games is a solid start to what should be a very promising career. The only reason OEL is not already a two-time all-star is the simple fact that there has not been an All-Star Game since the 2011-12 season.
Who is the greatest Coyotes draft pick of all time?