After taking a look at what the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes should have done with their first-round pick in 2005, we take a look at a draft that should’ve helped build a winner in the desert.
The 2006 NHL Draft kicked off three consecutive seasons with the Phoenix Coyotes having two picks in the first round, giving them two attempts at landing a top NHL-worthy prospect.
Unfortunately, this draft also kicked off a streak of some sensational misses in the first round, with some players not even suiting up for the NHL outfit and others, while contributing to some degree, never having the impact that was desired.
So with two picks to correct this time around, we take a look at what the Phoenix Coyotes should’ve done in the 2006 NHL Draft first round.
Original First Pick: Peter Mueller
The Coyotes held the eighth-overall selection in 2006 and had a chance at adding a legitimate impact player, and it looked as if that is what they had during Peter Mueller’s rookie campaign.
After registering 26 goals and 58 total points in 52 WHL games for the Everett Silvertips, the Bloomington, Minnesota native was named the new guy for the Coyotes, who would allow him to return to juniors for another season of development.
He improved his production with the Silvertips to 78 points (21 goals, 57 assists) in just 51 WHL regular-season games and took the step up to the NHL the following year.
The 2007/08 NHL season saw Mueller burst onto the scene, registering an impressive 54 points and 22 goals, seeing him finish as the team’s third-highest points producer and even earning a fifth-place finish in the Calder Trophy voting as the best rookie in the NHL.
The following year saw Mueller’s production drop down to just 36 points (13 goals, 23 assists), averaging over a minute less while out on the ice.
Less than a year later and Mueller was no longer with the organization, finding himself shipped out to the Colorado Avalanche along with Kevin Porter in exchange for Wojtek Wolski, having registered just 17 points in 54 games in 09/10.
After five years in the NHL, including a difficult spell with the Avalanche and finally the Florida Panthers, Mueller took his talents over to Europe, where he continues to play in the Czech league.
Being picked so high comes with lofty expectations, with teams generally feeling that their guy can be a regular contributor higher up the line-up for many years.
In Mueller’s case, a great rookie campaign following declining performances that showed he wasn’t quite at the NHL level after all.
NHL Stats: 297GP: 63G-97A (160pts)
Redraft First Pick: Claude Giroux
The Coyotes missed in a big way with the Mueller pick and will find making this pick again, knowing what they know now, far easier and much more assured in long-term results.
If the team could go back to 2006 with the eighth pick, the logical selection would be Claude Giroux, who originally went to the Philadelphia Flyers 14 picks after Mueller.
Giroux has been a star in the NHL for several years now, captaining the Flyers since 2012, registering 102 points (34 goals, 68 assists) in 2017/18.
He took a little bit longer before being brought into the NHL and took a bit of time adjusting to the show. But once he was firmly a regular top-six player, he became one of the most consistent points-producers for the Flyers as well as being highly successful in the face-off circle.
A career average success rate of 55% is a valuable asset to any team and had the Coyotes selected Giroux the first time around, there’s every possibility that the team’s fortunes in the long-term would have been far more favorable.
NHL Stats: 889 GP: 257G-558A (815pts)
Original Second Pick: Chris Summers
The Coyotes had a chance to select two impact players in the 2006 Draft, also holding the 29th selection that year.
Unfortunately, much like the Peter Mueller selection, the selection of Chris Summers proved to be a poor decision that would not really help the team.
After being drafted, Summers went to college and played four years with the University of Michigan where he won two CCHA Conference Championships. In 07/08 he was also named Top 3 player on Team USA, though wasn’t able to help the team to a medal at the World Juniors.
After graduating from college, Summers joined the Portland Pirates, the AHL affiliates of the Coyotes at the time, and spent the majority of his career playing at that level. He was named an AHL All-Star during the 2012/13 season and racked up 509 regular-season appearances in the minors.
The left-handed blueliner featured just 64 times in the NHL for the Coyotes before finding himself sent to the New York Rangers as part of the Keith Yandle/Anthony Duclair trade back in 2015.
The past five years have seen Summers play regularly in the AHL before deciding to venture out to the German DEL, where he plays for the Nurnberg Ice Tigers to this day.
NHL Stats: 70GP: 2G-7A (9pts)
Redraft Second Pick: Brad Marchand
If the Coyotes could go back in time, they would opt for one of the most recognizable and polarizing players in the NHL total in Brad Marchand.
Marchand was originally a third-round selection for the Boston Bruins, being picked 71st overall in 2006.
It took the Halifax, Nova Scotia, native three more years in juniors and then later the minors before he made his NHL debut during the 09/10 season.
The 2010/11 season saw Marchand become a mainstay with the NHL club, with 19 points in 25 playoff games on route to a Stanley Cup championship in that famous finals series against the Vancouver Canucks.
While averaging around 50 points for the majority of his early career in the NHL, Marchand has not registered less than 85 points over the past four seasons, becoming one of the most offensively gifted forwards in the league.
He is probably still best known for his antics on the ice and overall cocky attitude that led to many memes after the Bruins lost in the Stanley Cup finals to St. Louis last year, but his physical play and ability to put up big numbers is something the Coyotes are desperate for.
His career has been a huge success, despite being just a mid-round pick in 2006, and if the Coyotes could go back in time, there’s no doubt they would double up at the forward position and bring in Marchand to play alongside Giroux.
This redraft would give the Coyotes an attacking partnership that could’ve helped change the fortunes of the club and see them have one of the better offenses in the NHL today.