With the first pick of the 2022 Amateur Draft, the Montreal Canadiens are proud to select…
Just a few weeks ago, the rest of this sentence left no room for doubt. Shane Wright has been at the top of almost every list since he became the sixth teenager to receive Exceptional Player status, allowing him to start his OHL career a season younger than usual.
Now the names of Logan Cooley and especially Juraj Slafkovsky have gained momentum and cast doubt on who will be the Canadian’s pick at the top of the draft. Both are excellent players, but Kent Hughes and the CH must not lose sight of the special talent that Shane Wright has.
Wright is not an explosive goalscorer in the style of Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews, but he is a complete player who is capable of contributing in all facets of the game, but you have to put his performance in context.
His rookie season was cut short due to COVID and his second season was canceled entirely. These are unique circumstances that undoubtedly had an impact on his immediate development.
Wright was also overused by Kingston, with about 23 minutes of ice time per game, as well as playing in the first wave with the power play advantage and disadvantage. After more than a year without hockey, it’s a huge workload to ask a player who turned 18 in January. Wright responded with 32 goals and 94 points in 63 games, 8th in scoring in the OHL.
His greatest strength is his understanding of the game. He excels at being in the right place at the right time, both with and without the puck, and is able to spot his teammates in the pay zone on a regular basis. He also allows him to excel defensively, as he can see the game unfold and position himself to block a lot of passes. He keeps an active stick to throw pucks and make life difficult for opposing players.
Wright didn’t attack the slot as often as he had in years past and passed the puck more regularly, but his shot is still very dangerous when he decides to shoot. He takes advantage of his scoring opportunities when they come up, especially when he can install Kingston in the offensive cycle. He has NHL-quality shots and, while he’s probably not a 50-goal scorer, he has the potential to hit the 30-goal plateau regularly in the pros.
Speaking of the offensive cycle, Wright ranked third in completions to space in the OHL last year, behind two players who were already drafted (Rory Kerins in 2020 by Calgary and Wyatt Johnston in 2021 by Dallas).
Going into the zone, he often opts to pass rather than shoot himself, while his two linemates sometimes outplay him going into the zone, but with the quality of their “off the run” passing. far from being a negative point in his game.
Wright combines this offense with the play of one of the best defensive forwards in the OHL. At 6’1” and 191 pounds, he isn’t afraid to get physically involved to win discus duels. He excels at blocking passes and has an active stick for spearing pucks.
The central position has been a problem for the CH since the beginning of the millennium. Slafkovsky has an impressive physique and could offer a winger to complete a line with Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield, but Montreal shouldn’t be blinded by his size.
Center remains the most important position and the Habs have an opportunity to form a duo on which to build the next generation of hockey in Montreal. Suzuki and Wright have regularly been compared to Patrice Bergeron. Two leading centers who can offer a quality game both in attack and defense is an opportunity that Kent Hughes should not let slip through his fingers.
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