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François Gagnon: Shane Wright can already be seen in Montreal

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DENVER – Invited by the NHL to attend Game 2 of the Grand Final between Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning, Shane Wright, Cutter Gauthier, Matt Savoie and Conor Geekie were able to meet some of their idols and share the emotion that lives in them with three weeks of repechage that will change their lives.

Not surprisingly, Shane Wright can already be seen in the uniform of the Canadiens, who will choose the former during the session that will begin on the evening of July 7 at the Bell Center and end the following day.

“I had excellent meetings with the Canadiens staff. I shared a great meal with members of management during the assessments that took place in Buffalo. They told me about their plans to make the Canadiens a winning club and I would like to have a role in this reconstruction, “the Kingston Frontenacs center repeated yesterday.

Note that Wright, wearing number 51 with the Frontenacs, could be selected by the 51-year-old Canadian after the draft that allowed Guy Lafleur, who died on April 22, to revive the Habs in the early 1970s.

Well prepared by his management team and showing the maturity that characterizes him, Wright assures in the same breath that he will be happy to head towards the NHL, regardless of his selection rank and which team decides to bet on him.

“Now everything is in the hands of the Canadian. Obviously I would like to be the first player selected in the next draft, because I believe with the skills to justify this degree of selection. But I’ll be happy to end up in New Jersey or Arizona, “added Wright of the Devils and the Coyotes who will be speaking second and third … unless they make a trade.

Wright was a slight favorite in a duel against Slovakian Juraj Slafkovsky, who plays for TPS Turku in Finland and who turned heads at the latest Olympics and the World Championship. A little behind, American Logan Cooley, a center evolving within the US development program, completes the top three positions.

Makar and Johnson: patience rewarded

Regardless of their draft rank, Wright, Slafkovsky, Cooley, the other three youngsters invited to Denver this weekend and most of those who will be called in a few weeks’ time will be looking to make it to the NHL as soon as possible.

The examples offered by Avalanche defenders Cale Makar and Jack Johnson show, however, that it can be very beneficial to extend one’s apprenticeship into the junior ranks, collegiate ranks or a European championship as in the case of the great Slovak.

Fourth selection of the 2017 draft, Cale Makar was awaited with open arms by the Colorado Avalanche who were looking to revive their organization after the fourth consecutive elimination from the playoffs. A seventh in eight years.

“We had a place for Cale on our defensive team, but he decided to delay his arrival in the NHL. Personally, I don’t have a firm position on whether or not to delay entry into the NHL. It is case by case. But in my eyes, a young player must be able to help your team win in order to make a quick leap into the NHL. I don’t think it’s beneficial to push him too high just to give him a taste of NHL hockey, ”coach Jared Bednar said after his team’s training on Saturday morning.

The decision to extend his tenure in the university ranks by two years pleased both Makar and Avalanche. Backed by the return of his teammates Minutemen to the University of Massachusetts and two more seasons with them, Makar literally took the NHL by storm when he joined the Avalanche on the eve of the playoffs in Spring 2019 showing ease and above all. the confidence of a veteran, Makar scored one goal and scored six points in ten games played in the playoffs.

The following season, he scored 50 points (12 goals) in 57 games and was awarded the Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year.

Three wins behind a first Stanley Cup, running for the Conn-Smythe Trophy as the team’s most valuable player in the playoffs, second – along with Victor Hedman of the Lightning and Roman Josi of the Predators – in the race for the Norris Trophy, Cale Makar is now regarded as one of the NHL’s best defenders. He completes, to the right of his workmate Devon Toews, the best duo of backrests on the circuit.

Vedo also invites you to read a recent column dedicated to the two star defenders of the Avalanche.

A grand finale and a diploma as a bonus

Like Cale Makar, who shaves all the players of his season who made the NHL before him, Jack Johnson also delayed his arrival in the NHL. He turned his back on the Los Angeles Kings who had chosen him third in the 2005 vintage, behind Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh) and Bobby Ryan (Anaheim), two positions ahead of Carey Price chosen by the Canadian.

In a press conference on Saturday morning, Jack Johnson indicated that the decision to remain in the university ranks had been very easy to make.

“My dream as a young hockey player was to defend the colors of the University of Michigan. After a season with the Wolverines, I couldn’t see myself giving up that childhood dream so quickly, especially since I didn’t feel ready to evolve into the NHL, ”Johnson admitted candidly.

So it was in 2007-2008, after another two years helping him better prepare for NHL hockey, that Johnson joined the Kings.

Now 35, Johnson completes 15And season in a tumultuous career during which he had to file for bankruptcy in 2014 after his parents took out more than $ 15 million of the defender’s $ 18 million earned so far. After making his debut with the Kings in Los Angeles, and the stops in Columbus, Pittsburgh and New York with the Rangers, he finally tasted the pleasures of a presence at the Stanley Cup finals with the Avalanche who brought him this year to Colorado.

“It’s as sensational as I imagined,” he proudly testified Saturday morning.

In addition to seeing his patience before entering the NHL and the one that helped him pass the tests that marked his career by finally being awarded on the ice, Jack Johnson also showed great patience to finally get his college degree.

“It took me 18 years and after 18 years of college you are usually a doctor. But I did it “, said the defender, who followed the distance learning after the exclusions of the playoffs or early eliminations and also taking advantage of the breaks related to COVID.

“It took me a long time to reach my goal, but now I have graduated from the best public university in the United States,” which Johnson trumpeted with even more pride than that associated with his appearance at the Grand Finals. .

“When I made the leap to the NHL, I made it my goal to finish my studies. I also promised Red Berenson – he spent the first five years of his career in 17 NHL seasons with the Montreal Canadiens – my coach with the Wolverines, that I would graduate one day. He’s the first person I called when I got him, ”concluded Johnson, who worked hard, especially with his statistical math classes, to get a degree in general studies.

When questioned by reporters about whether he could benefit from an extra year in the junior ranks like what Cale Makar and Jack Johnson are doing, Shane Wright remained very neutral. “We will have to see the circumstances in which I find myself once enlisted. It is often said that defenders need more time to develop than attackers. We’ll see, ”said the promising that he could finish in Montreal next year.

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