While the big club Seattle Kraken confidently continued their four-game winning streak with a win against the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday night, the franchise also knows the subject of its most important player development effort is gaining confidence with ice time in the American Hockey League. Fourth overall 2022 NHL Draft pick Shane Wright scored two more goals on Thursday night for the Coachella Valley Firebirds and has three in his first two AHL games.
Wright tied the game with the Calgary Wranglers at 1-1 at 11:40 of the first period and tied it again 3-3 at 10:10 of the third. His team would get the game winner from Cameron Hughes with just seven seconds remaining in regulation to split a pair of games this week at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Wright also had a goal in the 5-3 loss to the Wranglers on Tuesday night.
In his time with the Kraken this season, Wright saw very limited shifts and tallied just one assist over a seven game span. The current team’s success thus far has a direct impact on the 18-year-old center’s development, in that they don’t need him. The team is winning with its current, more experienced line-up, and Wright has done nothing to force their hand.
The idea is to bring Wright along to the point where his skill level and ability to handle all elements of the NHL game make him indispensable and irreplaceable, yet there is no specific timetable. A Kraken Matty Beniers, Shane Wright one-two punch at center, lefty and righty, doesn’t just sound tantalizing, it’s the hope and vision for the franchise’s future.
Lefty top-liner Alexander Wennberg has one year after this one at $4.5-million, star lefty Beniers has two years remaining on his entry-level deal. while lefty Yanni Gourde remains locked up through 2025 at $5.1-million per season. The lone current righty, 24-year-old 4th-liner Morgan Geekie, is in the last year of a deal worth $1.4-million.
Wright could end up playing in the World Junior Tournament for Canada this December. After that, the club will have another decision to make. Imagine if they could find a way to keep all three years of his entry-level deal intact, a delightful concept for future salary cap implications, although sending Wright back to the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) likely wouldn’t do him much good. Then again, hanging around Seattle not seeing ice time would do even less.
Once Wright crosses an NHL games-played threshold, the Kraken burn that first inexpensive year of his entry-level deal.
Wright’s “conditioning stint” with the AHL club is finite. He’ll play with the Firebirds at the San Diego Gulls on Saturday night. His final two games with Coachella Valley will be next weekend at the Henderson Silver Knights in Nevada.