2022 Draft: The Year of Shane Wright


“It’s been far too long since I played, he says on the phone. I can’t wait any longer. « 

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Since putting on the skates for the first time, the Ontario forward has never been deprived of the sport he loves so much for so long. But now he has been limited to five small meetings – all at the World Under-18 Championship – since the pandemic broke out in March 2020.

No less than 19 months after his last game in the Ontario League (OHL), the player with “exceptional” status will begin his second season with the Kingston Frontenacs this week. And his list of goals is full.

« I want to come out of the blocks in force, » explained the 17-year-old center. I have no time to waste. I want to excel from the start because I have my eyes on the World Junior Championship. I believe I have the ability to carve out a place for myself on the team and have a big impact during the tournament.

“And at the end of the year, I want to be drafted as high as possible. It’s still a long time away, but it’s something that occupies my thoughts. « 

Wright may seem like he has big ambitions, but you can be assured that he has the talent to aspire to all of this. In fact, it would take a disaster for it to be dislodged from its pedestal, he who has been considered the possible first choice of this vintage for quite a while.

“Shane is the best prospect in this draft because he can make a difference,” said NHL Central Scouting director Dan Marr. His gaming intelligence, his sense of anticipation and his vision are in a class of its own. He’s a constant threat when he’s on the ice, and he makes his teammates better. « 

For the record, Wright had 66 points, including 39 goals, in 58 games in his first season with the Frontenacs – at age 15, when he was still midget.

He couldn’t continue to build on it last year, but he still left a strong impression at the World Under-18 by leading Canada to the gold medal with his nine goals. and five assists in five games. He was then appointed captain of a team composed mainly of players drafted in 2021.

« He’s never satisfied and he never should be, » said coach Luca Caputi. The best players always want to improve. Shane is an incredible talent and a peerless individual. Everything starts from his great will. He wants to take his game to another level, and he’s had a pretty special training camp.

“Physically he was still a teenager when he left Kingston (in 2020). He’s come back, and he’s a man now. Sometimes he lost races and battles because he was lighter. I’m not saying it will be easier, but he is visibly stronger. He will complicate the task of his opponents. « 

As if she wasn’t already. Now, it turns out that Wright made good use of the many months he spent at home watching the dithering over the possible OHL return to play, which ultimately never happened. Fears of seeing his progress stagnate pushed him to surpass himself despite the lack of matches.

“I certainly had doubts about the impact of this break on my game, he admitted. These are things that crossed my mind. It motivated me to do something every day to improve myself, whether at home, at the gym or on the ice. I always aspire to be the best version of myself. « 

It’s a safe bet that these doubts will be quickly dispelled.

Distractions

The Burlington, Ont. Native has had a little taste of what’s to come in terms of media attention and interest from NHL teams over the past few years, but nothing can compare to the « Real deal ». Without counting the curiosity of the amateurs who will want to see what wood it is heated.

Visiting Ottawa for a preseason game last week, you could feel the excitement he sparked every time he grabbed the puck. Hockey Canada scouts were even there already.

“Sometimes it’s hard to stay focused on the moment,” Wright said. The draft date is well noted in my calendar. It’s a goal and something I want to accomplish. I cannot look too far, however. I have to make sure I deserve everything and leave nothing to chance.

“I’ve learned to deal with it over the years and put it aside. I have high expectations of myself and don’t want to put extra pressure on myself from outside. I’m aware of it, and I know it will always be there, but I just want to play hockey. « 

For the rest, Caputi and the Frontenacs organization will do their best to guide him through the vagaries of this busy year as best as possible. However, we feel that the young has things well in hand and that he does not need to be brooded that much.

“He’s very mature and his behavior rubs off on the whole team,” concluded Caputi. We won’t lie to each other: his status as an exceptional and possible first choice in the draft comes with a lot of pressure. But the more the pressure, the more he gets up. This has been so for a long time in his case.

“That’s what’s exciting for our team, and for Shane. « 



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