Since 6:54 p.m. Tuesday we know that the Canadian will speak in the very first row of the selection session for amateur players of the NHL on July 7. When a team obtains such a privilege, it had better not miss out.
Obviously, the recruitment of young junior players is far from being an exact science and the examples in all sports are numerous: Tom Brady claimed at 199and rank in the NFL or Luc Robitaille at 171and rank in the NHL to name just two that quickly come to mind.
As for the CH, as much as he had flair in 1971 by claiming Guy Lafleur in the very first row, things went wrong with Doug Wickenheiser in 1980. There was however a constant in these two selections: each time, it was the best player available in the vintage in question. Need I remind you that Wickenheiser had just scored 89 goals and 170 points in 71 games with the Regina Pats.
In 2022, the best player available is Shane Wright, of the Kingston Frontenacs. He probably won’t become Sidney Crosby or Connor McDavid, but in 2022 he wants to be the one to bet on, and here’s why…
Wright is a mature young man who has excellent sense of the game. He is a good skater, he is aware of his defensive game and he has an excellent shot. His maturity: Hockey Canada officials have highlighted him on several occasions. First by giving him the status of exceptional player to allow him to enter the Ontario Junior League at age 15. To obtain this privilege, you must certainly have the talent, but also prove that you have the maturity to deal with players aged 19 and 20 as teammates and as opponents. Wright passed this test with flying colors by scoring 39 goals in the 2019-20 season, which placed him in 10and rank of the circuit, and this at the age of 15 years. During that same season, his coach at the time Kurtis Foster decided to make him, at 15, one of the assistant captains of the formation after a few transactions concluded during the holiday period. A few months earlier, the player from Burlington, Ontario had also captained his team at the World Under-17 Challenge, where, again, he was the youngest on the team.
Shane Wright didn’t play hockey last year due to COVID-19 as there was no OHL season. However, in May he was named captain of the national under-18 team when he was just 16 and led Canada to gold scoring 9 goals and 5 assists in just 5 games, playing despite an injury that caused him to miss two tournament games.
Then this year he earned a spot with the national under-20 team in Edmonton, but only played two games due to the cancellation of the competition. With the Frontenacs, he still went for 94 points in 63 games.
Another reason why the CH must go with Wright is the fact that the youngster really wants to play in Montreal. During a casual conversation with him last December in Calgary, he had sparks in his eyes just at the idea that such a scenario could materialize. He is the kind of player who in my humble opinion will not be crushed by the pressure of a big market. Also, it must be remembered, he is a center player, a crying need in the Montreal organization.
The hockey player is certainly not perfect, but very few players can boast of having no flaws in their game.
The truth is simple: no one knows what kind of career Shane Wright will have. We can certainly speculate, but I repeat, NOBODY can predict the future, because if it were the case there would never be errors in the repechages.
So not knowing what the future holds for Wrights, Cooleys, Slafkovskys, Kemells and company, you have to rely on what you know right now to make the most informed decision. And RIGHT NOW, no one has proven beyond doubt to be better than Shane Wright for the 2022 session.
So why should the CH take Shane Wright? Because with what we know today, he is the best player available. Period.