Shane Wright entered the 2021-22 season because the consensus No. 1 prospect for the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. He was thought-about a real elite prospect by many scouts, a possible star No. 1 middle. After being granted distinctive standing to play within the OHL as a 15-year-old, he promptly scored 39 targets in 58 OHL video games. He scored 9 targets and 14 factors in 5 video games on the U-18 Worlds as an underage participant. He was on the trail to stardom and it appeared inevitable he would have an important draft season.

Then the season began and Wright received out of the gates slowly. He had 8 factors in 8 video games within the season’s opening month. He additionally didn’t appear notably impactful within the video games I noticed. Various affordable rationales for his less-than-exceptional play began to come back from across the NHL, with onlookers pointing to pattern measurement or his missed season in 2020-21 as elements that might result in a gradual begin.

It’s onerous to invest how a lot the missed season impacted gamers’ growth, but it surely’s price noting that it hasn’t appeared to gradual Dallas decide Wyatt Johnston or Seattle decide Ryan Winterton from being among the many prime scorers within the OHL in factors/recreation. Wright did come on sturdy within the second half although and ended up within the prime 10 in OHL scoring.

Wright’s statistics developing at all times seemed superb, however I admit there have been solely a few instances after I noticed him and was actually blown away: the opening recreation of the U17 problem and his U18 worlds recreation vs. Sweden. He scored a hat trick in each. The apparent caveat right here is that he was at all times so younger that I simply moderately concluded that age was the explanation why he wasn’t persistently having nice video games.

Those previous viewings inform this season’s, although. I’ve talked to scouts about what they’ve seen and I’ve watched over a dozen Kingston video games, each dwell and by way of video. The realization and customary thought across the business is that Wright merely lacks the dynamic athleticism and talent components you usually affiliate with a No. 1 decide. He’s a wonderful participant and NHL prospect, however he doesn’t have Nathan MacKinnon’s skating, Patrick Kane’s fingers, or Steven Stamkos’ shot.  I traditionally seen Wright’s shot as elite, but it surely didn’t look that means this season, and actually he had twice as many assists as targets. Wright is only a very well-rounded participant, which admittedly could be boring for a primary general decide. It’s why you hear scouts mission him as Patrice Bergeron and Ryan O’Reilly, neither of whom, thoughts you, had been first-round picks because of their lack of a few of these dynamic components. You can argue it is a dangerous projection for a teen when there isn’t a really giant expertise excessive aspect to hit. That mentioned, comparable descriptions could possibly be used for the highest two picks within the 2021 draft in Owen Power and Matthew Beniers. My present comparable for Wright can be Rangers middle Mika Zibanejad.

Wright has been fairly productive this season, however in comparison with the place prime CHL prospects often are, it’s clear he’s not on the stage you’re used to seeing of a primary general decide by way of dominance of his respective CHL league.

Year Player Points/Game League Rank

2005

2.71

1st

2015

2.55

1st

2007

2.5

1st

2020

2.15

1st

2010

1.86

1st

2009

1.86

1st

2008

1.72

fifth

2013

1.7

fifth

2012

1.64

2nd

2011

1.54

fifth

2017

1.51

4th

2022

1.49

eighth

2002

1.33

seventeenth

Shane Wright’s grip on the No. 1 decide has but to be challenged partly as a result of lack of an apparent riser this season. Logan Cooley is a wonderful prospect however has 36 factors in 24 USHL video games. Joakim Kemell received off to a scorching begin in Liiga however has since slowed down significantly, and the identical could be mentioned to a lesser extent about Matthew Savoie within the WHL. Juraj Slafkovsky had an incredible Olympics and general has been spectacular in worldwide play the final two seasons, however regardless of an excellent previous couple of weeks together with his membership his general Liiga manufacturing is nothing superb.


(Robert Lefebvre / OHL Images)

“You’re keeping a guy at first overall based mostly on what he’s done in past seasons and not in his draft season,” mentioned one NHL government. “I think that’s dangerous.” This is an inexpensive thought, and it’s one I’ve thought-about greater than as soon as. Most NHL scouts I’ve mentioned Wright with admit they’re not leaping out of their seats for him on the No. 1 decide, however in addition they admit he can be their decide merely as a result of lack of an apparent alternate. There had been a number of scouts within the first half of the season arguing to me that Logan Cooley was a believable various, however much less so recently after Cooley didn’t gentle it up this season. Lately there have been scouts arguing Slafkovsky as the primary challenger to Wright, with a minority suggesting they might certainly take the Slovakian winger if that they had the primary decide.

Wright and Slafkovsky’s seasons are usually not over but, although. Due to how delayed the CHL playoffs are, we nonetheless must see how Wright fares within the postseason. Could an early Kingston exit trigger extra uncertainty with the No. 1 decide? What in the event that they unseat OHL favourite Hamilton? What if Slafkovsky has an enormous World Championships with NHL gamers in attendance? These are questions which can be but to be answered on the eve of the lottery.

Projections when a participant is an 18-year-old aren’t any assure. Just as a result of Wright doesn’t appear like a lights-out No. 1 decide doesn’t imply he can’t be. There are instances that has occurred, when a No. 1 decide like Nico Hischier in 2017 and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in 2011 didn’t get you that excited and that ended up being predictive regardless that they’re superb gamers. There had been additionally years like 2014 in Aaron Ekblad and Patrick Kane in 2007 — gamers who weren’t consensus No. 1s and ended up changing into legit foundational items. There are additionally years like 2020, when Alexis Lafreniere seemed like a future star and, at the very least so far, that hasn’t occurred but.

There are nonetheless fairly a couple of scouts who’re huge believers in Wright, and who assume he’ll be a real star middle within the NHL and would relish the chance to pick out him. I additionally personally consider he initiatives as a primary line middle, somebody who could be a prime 15-20 middle within the league. As the season has progressed, although, there was extra warning amongst scouts in projecting Wright, and there are fairly a couple of evaluators who don’t see that top aspect I do.

Wright stays the crown jewel for the staff that wins the lottery. At this present second I’ve a tough time seeing a staff taking another person like Slafkovsky as a result of it stays shut at greatest between the 2 and groups will lean to the middle if it’s tight. Wright will possible turn into an important participant for whichever NHL group picks him. But he’s no positive factor to turn into a reliable NHL star or a prime scorer within the league, and because the lottery balls start to swirl, the story of the highest of the 2022 NHL Draft has but to be absolutely written.

(Top picture: Claus Andersen / Getty Images)



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