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WILL NUMBER EIGHT BE GREAT?

History says the chances are very good for the Phoenix Coyotes

Thursday, 05.29.2008 / 4:53 PM / Features
By Heath Price-Khan
Peter Mueller was all smiles at the 2006 Draft
On June 20th, Phoenix Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney and his staff will make the 8th selection in this year’s draft and hope to hit the jackpot with an impact player.

How great will this year’s “Number Eight” become? History says there is a very good chance to get a star in the 8th slot, and the Coyotes continued that theme in 2006 when they snagged a kid from Minnesota named Peter Mueller.

With the NHL Draft less than a month away, PhoenixCoyotes.com decided to take a look at just how good the #8 pick can turn out to be. This has been a draft position that historically has paid big dividends with All-Star, and Hall of Fame caliber players.

Darryl Sittler captained the Toronto Maple Leafs for many years
In 1989 Darryl Sittler was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, but that magical ride all started when the Toronto Maple Leafs made him the 8th pick in the 1970 Draft. All you need to know about how good Sittler was is this; on February 7th, 1976 he scored 10 points (6 goals, 4 assists) in one game against the Boston Bruins, setting an NHL record. To put that in perspective, even “The Great One” Wayne Gretzky never matched that historic 10 point night.. Sittler finished a brilliant career with 1121 points in 1096 games.

Bob Gainey
Shut down smothering defense can also get you in to the Hall of Fame. Bob Gainey proved that as he rolled to 4 consecutive Selke Awards as the NHL’s best defensive forward. These days, Gainey is pulling the trigger on draft picks as the Montreal Canadiens General Manager, but back in 1973 it was those same Habs that selected this hockey legend who blanketed snipers with the best of them. In 1992, this 8th overall pick and 5-time Stanley Cup Champion joined Sittler in the Hall of Fame.

During the 1973-74 season in the QMJHL with the Sorel Eperviers,
Pierre Larouche
Pierre Larouche scored a record setting 251 points (94 goals, 157 assists) in 67 games which is just under 4 points per game. That record that would stand for 10 years until Mario Lemieux shattered it with 282 points. With that kind of production, the 8th selection in the 1974 Draft was a no-brainer for the Pittsburgh Penguins. “Lucky Pierre” was a fan favorite who became the first player in NHL history to score 50 goals for two different teams. He was the youngest player ever to reach the 50 goal plateau until Phoenix Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky dethroned him in 1980.


Ray Bourque
1979 produced arguably the greatest #8 pick in the history of the NHL. The Boston Bruins must have been licking their chops when they saw Ray Bourque sitting on the board at number eight and they cashed in big time with that pick. Bourque paid immediate dividends wining the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year. That was just the start of what would be a Hall of Fame career with 1579 (410 goals, 1169 assists) points as a defenseman. He will be remembered as one of, if not the best defensemen ever to play the game with 5 Norris Trophies as the league’s best.

Two years after Bourque went 8th, the Edmonton Oilers continued the tradition of drafting Hall of Famers in that spot with goaltender Grant Fuhr (2003 HOF inductee).
Grant Fuhr's jersey hangs at Rexall Place
The current Phoenix Coyotes goaltending coach was one of the greatest winners to ever patrol the nets and has 5 Stanley Cups to prove it. Fuhr won 403 regular season games and another 92 in the playoffs. These days when he is away from the rink you can catch Grant chasing wins on the Celebrity Golf Tour where he attacks tough pin placements with the best of them.

1988 was the greatest draft ever in terms of American born hockey players. Future Hall of Famer Mike Modano went first to the Stars, and then
Jeremy Roenick at the 1991 All-Star Game
Jeremy Roenick joined the Chicago Blackhawks with the 8th selection. In the 2007-08 season with the San Jose Sharks, “JR” became the third U.S. born player to reach the 500 goal mark and just about guaranteed himself a spot in the Hall. Even with 509 goals in the books, Roenick still has some gas in the tank and plans to keep going for at least another season as he looks for that elusive Stanley Cup Championship.

Clearly Peter Mueller (2006) and the recent #8 picks that include; Columbus goalie Pascal Leclaire (2001), Wild forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard (2002), and the Flyers rugged defenseman Braydon Coburn (2003), have a lot to live up to if they want to be mentioned in the same conversation with some of the NHL’s greatest legends.

The 2008 draft features a great crop of defensemen that many say are ready to play in the NHL. Can the Phoenix Coyotes find the next Ray Bourque, or maybe even a player with the talent of a Braydon Coburn? Will there be a sniper on the board like Sittler or Roenick that you can’t pass on?

Check back on June 20th, 2008 to see if the Phoenix Coyotes can discover the next in a long line of “Great Eights”.

For more information on the 2008 NHL Draft please visit www.nhlentrydraft2008.com

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