Is Shane Wright nonetheless the No. 1 choose? What’s at stake on the NHL Draft Lottery

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Shane Wright entered the 2021-22 season because the consensus No. 1 prospect for the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. He was thought of 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 excellent draft season.

Then the season began and Wright bought 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. Varied affordable rationales for his less-than-exceptional play began to come back from across the NHL, with onlookers pointing to pattern dimension or his missed season in 2020-21 as elements that might result in a gradual begin.

It’s exhausting to take a position how a lot the missed season impacted gamers’ improvement, however it’s price noting that it hasn’t appeared to gradual Dallas choose Wyatt Johnston or Seattle choose 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 arising at all times regarded superb, however I admit there have been solely a few instances once 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 plain caveat right here is that he was at all times so younger that I simply fairly concluded that age was the explanation why he wasn’t constantly having nice video games.

These 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 reside and through video. The belief and customary thought across the business is that Wright merely lacks the dynamic athleticism and ability parts you sometimes affiliate with a No. 1 choose. He’s a superb participant and NHL prospect, however he doesn’t have Nathan MacKinnon’s skating, Patrick Kane’s palms, or Steven Stamkos’ shot.  I traditionally seen Wright’s shot as elite, however it 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 might be boring for a primary general choose. It’s why you hear scouts undertaking him as Patrice Bergeron and Ryan O’Reilly, neither of whom, thoughts you, have been first-round picks attributable to their lack of a few of these dynamic parts. You possibly can argue this can be a dangerous projection for a young person when there isn’t a really massive expertise excessive aspect to hit. That mentioned, comparable descriptions may very well be used for the highest two picks within the 2021 draft in Owen Energy and Matthew Beniers. My present comparable for Wright could 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 degree you’re used to seeing of a primary general choose when it comes to dominance of his respective CHL league.

12 months Participant Factors/Recreation 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 choose has but to be challenged partially as a result of lack of an apparent riser this season. Logan Cooley is a superb prospect however has 36 factors in 24 USHL video games. Joakim Kemell bought off to a scorching begin in Liiga however has since slowed down significantly, and the identical might 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 previous couple of weeks together with his membership his general Liiga manufacturing is nothing superb.


(Robert Lefebvre / OHL Pictures)

“You’re holding a man at first general based mostly totally on what he’s finished in previous seasons and never in his draft season,” mentioned one NHL govt. “I believe that’s harmful.” It is a affordable thought, and it’s one I’ve thought of 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 choose, however additionally they admit he could be their choose merely as a result of lack of an apparent alternate. There have been a number of scouts within the first half of the season arguing to me that Logan Cooley was a believable different, however much less so these days after Cooley didn’t gentle it up this season. These days there have been scouts arguing Slafkovsky as the principle challenger to Wright, with a minority suggesting they might certainly take the Slovakian winger if that they had the primary choose.

Wright and Slafkovsky’s seasons aren’t over but, although. On account of how delayed the CHL playoffs are, we nonetheless need to see how Wright fares within the postseason. May an early Kingston exit trigger extra uncertainty with the No. 1 choose? 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 are but to be answered on the eve of the lottery.

Projections when a participant is an 18-year-old are not any assure. Simply because Wright doesn’t appear to be a lights-out No. 1 choose doesn’t imply he can’t be. There are occasions that has occurred, when a No. 1 choose like Nico Hischier in 2017 and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in 2011 didn’t get you that excited and that ended up being predictive although they’re excellent gamers. There have 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 regarded like a future star and, at the least up to now, that hasn’t occurred but.

There are nonetheless fairly a couple of scouts who’re huge believers in Wright, and who suppose he’ll be a real star middle within the NHL and would relish the chance to pick him. I additionally personally imagine he initiatives as a primary line middle, somebody who could be a prime 15-20 middle within the league. Because 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 workforce that wins the lottery. At this present second I’ve a tough time seeing a workforce taking another person like Slafkovsky as a result of it stays shut at finest between the 2 and groups will lean to the middle if it’s tight. Wright will doubtless change into an important participant for whichever NHL group picks him. However he’s no positive factor to change into a authentic 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.

(High picture: Claus Andersen / Getty Pictures)


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