It’s been six months of humble pie for Seattle Kraken center Shane Wright, and he seems to be handling it rather well. He has no choice. Not everyone can be Wayne Gretzky, Sidney Crosby, or Connor McDavid, or apparently whatever this Connor Bedard kid is going to turn out to be.
Wright, the captain for Team Canada and an NHL player with the Kraken, has tallied a total of three goals and three assists over the course of the 2023 World Junior Championship, tied for 14th in scoring through five games.
Meanwhile, he and his countrymen have watched teammate Bedard, a 17-year-old, lead everyone in scoring with eight goals and 21 points. Over the course of the 2022 and 2023 tournaments, he’s run up new Canadian WJC career records in goals and points with 16 and 34 respectively, passing the likes of Kraken forward Jordan Eberle and Hockey Hall of Famer Eric Lindros.
Wright was the projected first overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft for years leading up to it, only to fall to 4th-overall to the Kraken, who were happy to have him.
Bedard will be the first overall pick in 2023. There’s simply no doubt about it.
Because of Bedard’s prolific play, he’s been Hockey Canada’s go to quote the last four games. Wright had this quote posted after the opening 5-2 loss to Czechia.
“[Czechia] was the better team tonight,” Wright said. “We gave them way too many opportunities and made it way too easy for them. We did not make it hard on them in the defensive zone, and they were able to skate through the neutral zone easily. We took too many penalties, and that is something we need to clean up for our next game. Hats off to them, but we will take a lot of things away from tonight and look to improve for our next game.”
Sounds like a captain.
The Kraken Progression
Shane Wright turns 19-years-of-age on Thursday, the day of the WJC Gold and Bronze Medal games. Will he be the captain who steps forward to receive the trophy? His team has to first get past the Americans on Wednesday, and if accomplished, they’d face the winner of Sweden/Czechia for Gold.
It would be a crowning moment. Meanwhile, Bedard has already locked up MVP honors.
When it’s over, Wright will continue his progression with the Kraken. A healthy scratch for much of the early season, he snuck into seven games and earned an assist. After an impressive two-week conditioning stint, a.k.a. getting ice time with the affiliated Coachella Valley Firebirds in the American Hockey League, he came back and scored his first NHL goal on December 6th against the Montreal Canadiens, the team that passed him by with the first overall pick at the draft.
A little bit storybook. And there’s a good chance Wright will be writing more chapters.
Players develop at different paces. His skating and skill don’t come into question. It’s a matter of learning the NHL game, committing himself to a 200-foot game, and figuring out what it takes to play it. He’ll only get bigger and stronger.
Imagine the Matty Beniers / Shane Wright 1-2 punch up the middle if he turns out to be what he’s expected to be. It would mean a strong future for Kraken fans.
So, he’s had his pie, he’s had his cup of coffee, let’s see what Shane Wright does as 2023 unfolds.