What If? week gives us a chance to explore what could have happened if things had gone differently. The Coyotes’ history affords us a lot of these opportunities, with one of the biggest coming before the team was even called the Coyotes.
In the 1995-96 season, the Winnipeg Jets traded star forward Teemu Selänne along with Marc Chouinard and a fourth-round pick to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim for Chad Kilger, Oleg Tverdovsky, and a third-round pick for the 1996 NHL Entry Draft.
To say that the Mighty Ducks won the deal would be an understatement. Kilger would play 63 games with the Jets/Coyotes franchise and had 6 goals and 7 assists. Tverdovsky was better for the franchise with 241 games played, 24 goals and 83 assists. The pick would be used to draft Per-Anton Lundstrom who would never suit up for an NHL team.
The deal was more justifiable at the time, and ESPN did a great article about all the factors that went into the trade. What wasn’t known at the time was how long Selänne’s career in the NHL would last, and that he would keep returning to the Ducks.
If Selänne came to the Valley of the Sun with the team and fell in love with it like he did Anaheim. Selänne would play 966 games with the Ducks and finish with 457 goals and 531 assists. If he kept that production he would be first among Coyotes players in both goals and points, with only Shane Doan having more assists.
Selänne would have given the Coyotes franchise something they have been needing for most of their existence, a high-end goal scorer.
Arizona’s off-ice success is correlated with their on-ice play, and Selänne would have helped the Coyotes become a bigger draw. Selänne may not have saved the franchise, but it is hard to imagine the team being worse off with the former Rocket Richard Trophy winner.
Not having Selänne is the biggest missed opportunity of the Coyotes franchise. If Selänne had suited up for the Coyotes in their inaugural season and stayed with the franchise like he did the Ducks the trajectory of the franchise would be much more positive. He would have been another stabilizing factor for a team that too often relied on just Shane Doan.