Patient development is really the only option the Seattle Kraken have as it relates to the rookie season of 2022 4th-overall draft pick Shane Wright. He’s not eligible to be sent down to the American Hockey League because of his age and it’s extremely unlikely the team will send him back to junior hockey to play with younger teenagers. It wouldn’t do him any good.
Wright skates like an NHLer and has advanced skills, the idea will be to get him acclimated to the pro game as quickly as possible, while allowing for the development of his 200-foot game. It can be tough for players who were used to dominating at the junior level.
“Every game I feel more comfortable, I feel more confident out there,” Wright said after the 4-3 Kraken overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues on October 19th at Climate Pledge Arena. “Part of the learning curve. Obviously we have a number of knowledgeable and experienced guys on the team, they’re talking me through it, saying it’s going to take me a couple games to get through it, get used to the speed and pace and all that, but definitely a good step forward personally for me today.”
Some prospect experts had Wright, who received a rare underage exception to play in the Ontario Hockey League as a 15-year-old, as a generational talent, not unlike next year’s projected top overall pick Connor Berard out of North Vancouver, BC.
Apparently NHL scouts and managers ultimately didn’t feel the same way. Wright surprisingly fell to the fourth spot at the 2022 NHL Draft in Montreal. There’s a good chance over time that this could turn into a wonderful gift for the Seattle Kraken franchise and its fans.
“I gotta get him on the ice for a couple more minutes a night,” Kraken Head Coach Dave Hakstol said after the Blues game. “Continue letting him grow, I liked his game tonight, I liked the line’s game and I liked the confidence they showed in the few shifts that they had in the third period.”
Wright had opportunities to pick up his first NHL goal, instead he settled for his first professional assist.
“Getting his first point is awesome,” Hakstol added, “it’s a great step. He’s growing, he’s headed in the right direction.”
‘Wrighter’ also took his first colossal hit. Laid out in the right wing corner of the offensive zone by Blues forward Ivan Barbashev five minutes into the first period. Wright’s left winger Ryan Donato came to his defense and charged at Barbashev.
“‘Donnie’s’ a great guy, Donnie’s been awesome for me, and that stuff, that really kind of brings a team together, that really kind of shows how close we are as a team, the culture of the team,” Wright said while talking about Donato and that play. “Obviously it’s a big hit, hits are going to happen, I’m really thankful Donnie stepped in there and I probably owe him a dinner or something here in the future.”
The minutes have been limited thus far, but that Kraken future is bright.