Technically, when it comes to NHL history, the original Winnipeg Jets are the Phoenix Coyotes and the current Jets are the Atlanta Thrashers. In the hearts and minds of Winnipeg hockey fans, however, the original Jets died the day they moved to the desert in 1996. What they left behind was years of great hockey memories, including these five draft picks which the team made before leaving the River City.
Thomas Steen (C) -- Steen was a steal in the fifth round (103rd overall) of the 1979 NHL Draft. He scored 44 points as a rookie and increased his total in each of the next three seasons, until he reached 84 in the 1984-85 season. He scored a career-high 88 points in 1988-89. Steen, who played his entire 14-year career for the original Jets, remains the all-time assists leader in franchise history with 553.
Teppo Numminen (D) -- Numminen was a second-round gem (29th overall) in 1986. Counting his days in Phoenix, he played for the original Jets franchise until 2003 and appeared in the second-most games (1,098) of any player. He scored a career-high 54 points in the 1995-96 season. Tumminen scored 534 of his 637 career points for the Jets/Coyotes, which ranks him fifth all-time in franchise history.
Keith Tkachuk (LW) -- Drafted by Winnipeg in the first round (19th overall) in 1990, Tkachuk had one of the finest single seasons in Jets history. In 1995-96, the Jets' last season in Winnipeg, he scored 50 goals and dished out 48 assists for a career-high 98 points. Tkachuk, who has the second-most goals in Jets/Coyotes history with 323, finished his career with 538 goals, 527 assist and 2,219 penalty minutes.
Teemu Selanne (RW) -- After being drafted by the Jets 10th overall in 1988, Selanne scored a single-season rookie record 76 goals and 132 points to win the Calder Trophy. However, injuries and the 1994-95 NHL lockout limited the Finnish Flash to 96 games and 47 goals over the next two years. Selanne was celebrated by the home fans last season when he returned to Winnipeg as a member of the Ducks.
Dale Hawerchuk (C) -- Hawerchuk, who was the first overall pick in 1981, made an immediate and long-lasting impact in Winnipeg. As a rookie, he scored 103 points in leading the Jets to a 48-point turnaround. Hawerchuk, who had six 100-point seasons for the Jets, has the most goals and points in tea history with 379 and 929, respectively. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001.
Adam Martini is a freelance sportswriter and supporter of all Winnipeg sports teams. He no longer dreads Winnipeg winters now that the Jets have returned to town. Follow Adam and the Jets on Twitter @PegCitySports.
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