Seattle Kraken team writer Bob Condor reported Friday morning that the club had assigned forward Shane Wright back to his junior team, the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League. This makes utter and complete sense.
One: Wright’s not ready for fulltime NHL play and the current Kraken roster is obviously doing just fine. There is no desperation, there is no need to rush him along, not for points, not for publicity. The just turned 19-year-old as of Thursday will finish out the season playing with a great deal of confidence in the OHL.
Condor cites a great example of many that involve future NHL stars getting a bit more seasoning in juniors or in college as teenagers before ultimately emerging as front line professionals, and it indirectly involves current Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol.
Three-time Stanley Cup champion, long time Chicago captain and lock Hockey Hall of Famer Jonathan Toews was the 3rd-overall pick in the 2006 draft. As a teenager his game wasn’t quite ready for the “big show”. The Blackhawks sent him back to the University of North Dakota, coached by Hakstol, for plenty of ice time and a shot at a national championship. The then Fighting Sioux lost in the Frozen Four national semi-finals to Boston College.
Toews showed up in the NHL six months later as a 19-year-old and scored 24 goals his rookie season. The rest, as they say, is history.
A great majority of teenagers, regardless of how high they’re drafted, aren’t ready for fulltime NHL service in their first season.
Two: Wright’s Kraken entry-level contract remains intact. Rather than burn a year of his entry-level deal, Wright will show up next fall as if nothing ever happened from a contractual standpoint. The eight games he played at the NHL level amount to a try-out, a sampler. As long as an individual gets sent back to juniors before playing ten NHL games his first season, his three-year entry-deal remains as good as new and Wright’s career will “begin again” in the fall.
He played just eight NHL games and registered a goal and an assist.
This benefits the club. Had they used up a year of his deal, it would mean having to sign him to what will likely be a somewhat lucrative contract after two seasons from now rather than in three. Wright’s entry-level contract will run through the 2025-’26 season.
Three: Back to development. Wright just celebrated being captain of Team Canada, the squad that won the World Junior Championship Gold Medal on Thursday. Wright scored a beautiful goal in the final against Czechia to contribute to the win. He’s on top of the junior hockey world as he returns to the OHL to help the Frontenacs, or whatever team they might trade him to, win an OHL title and gun for the Memorial Cup.
The Mem’ Cup is the ultimate national prize in major junior hockey, a post-season tournament played between a host city and the champions of the OHL, Western Hockey League, and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
More importantly, regardless of playoff aspirations, Wright will get ice time, he’ll get points, he’ll add to his experience and self confidence.
Again, maybe the best news for Kraken fans … the Kraken don’t need him. It’s a free year of Shane Wright player development as the current roster legitimately battles for a Stanley Cup playoff spot in the franchise’s second season.