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 doubt. Shane Wright has been topping almost every list since he became the sixth teenager to receive outstanding player status, allowing him to start his OHL career a season earlier than usual.
Now, the names of Logan Cooley and especially Juraj Slafkovsky have gained momentum and questioned who will be the pick of the Canadian at the top of the draft. They are both excellent players, but Kent Hughes and CH must not lose sight of the special talent that is Shane Wright.
Wright is not an explosive Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews scorer, but he is a complete player who is able to contribute in all facets of the game, but we must contextualize his performance.
His rookie season was cut short due to COVID and his second season was canceled altogether. These are unique circumstances that no doubt impacted his immediate development.
Wright was also abused by Kingston, with roughly 23 minutes of ice per game, as well as playing the first wave to the advantage and disadvantage of the power play. After more than a year without hockey, that’s a lot of work to ask a player who turned 18 in January. Wright responded with 32 goals and 94 points in 63 games, ranking 8th in the OHL.
His greatest strength is his understanding of the game: he excels at getting to the right place at the right time, both with and without the puck, and he is able to regularly spot mates in the pay zone. He also allows him to excel in defense, as he is able to see the development of the game and positions himself to block many passes. He keeps an active stick to skewer the pucks and make life difficult for opposing players.
Wright hasn’t attacked the slot as often as in previous years and has passed the puck more regularly, but his shot is still very dangerous when he decides to throw. He takes his chances to score when they arise, especially when he is able to install Kingston in the offensive cycle. He has NHL quality shots, and while he probably won’t be a 50-goal scorer, he has the potential to hit the 30-goal plateau with regularity in the pros.
Speaking of the offensive cycle, Wright ranked third for slot completions in the OHL last year, behind two players who have already signed up (Rory Kerins in 2020 from Calgary and Wyatt Johnston in 2021 from Dallas).
When he enters the zone, he often opts for the pass rather than the shot himself, while his two linemates are ahead of him on opportunities entering the zone, but with the quality of his “out of bounds” passes. “, is far from being a negative point in the game of him.
Wright combines this offense with the play of one of OHL’s best defensive forwards. At 6’1 ”and 191lb, he is not afraid to be physically involved to win duels with the puck. He excels at block passes and has an active stick for harpooning discs.
Central location has been a problem for CH since the turn of the millennium. Slafkovsky has an impressive physique and could offer a nice winger to complete a line with Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield, but Montreal is not to be blinded by his size.
The center remains the most important location and the Habs have a chance to form a duo on which to build the next generation of hockey in Montreal. Suzuki and Wright have both been regularly compared to Patrice Bergeron. Two top centers capable of delivering quality play both in attack and defense is an opportunity that Kent Hughes must not let slip his fingers.