Fresh off a WJC gold medal, Shane Wright was reassigned from the Seattle Kraken to the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs and then, as expected, was traded. The Windsor Spitfires have acquired his rights.
Here’s a look at the trade:
With all due respect to Ethan Miedema and Gavin McCarthy, my column today is focusing solely on Wright and what the trade means for his development.
Wright has been living out of a suitcase for several weeks. He was loaned to Coachella Valley (AHL) on a conditioning stint by Seattle in late November, followed by one game in the NHL (where he scored his first goal against Montreal), and then embarked on his World Junior Championship journey with Team Canada in December. He returned home over the weekend to rest and reload. He now knows he will make Windsor home for the remainder of the season, and it’s important for his development to be stationed in one place.
Play to an Identity
Wright captained Team Canada at the WJC and was deployed primarily at even strength and the power play – with some exciting shifts in overtimes thrown in as well. He scored four goals and three assists at the tournament and averaged just shy of 19 minutes per game.
His best game was definitely the gold medal win over Czechia, where he scored a goal, skated over 21 minutes, and won 52 per cent of his face-offs.
I have always been impressed with Wright’s “best shifts.” He can play the game fast and provide reliable three zone detail to go along with his offence. His gold medal game performance provided a glimpse of his potential. He needs to maintain momentum off that game as he heads to Windsor.
I’m expecting Wright to be used in all situations in Windsor. Spitfires head coach (and Stanley Cup champion) Marc Savard will provide mentorship to Wright along the way.
In my opinion the hockey world did Wright no favours over the past year and a half. He had been under the microscope, understandably, as the likely No. 1 prospect for the 2022 draft. But some of the players his potential has been compared to in the NHL are unrealistic in my opinion. It’s best that Wright establishes his own identity as a player upon his return to the OHL.
Having said that, I’m not expecting him to score like Taylor Hall did when he played in Windsor. I am expecting well over a point per game, but equally important will be his play off the puck and his defensive detail.
Wright provides an already strong Windsor team (23-9-3-1) with an extra layer of depth in the middle of the ice. Despite being a first-place team, the Spitfires have room for improvement defensively. They have allowed 3.75 goals per game this year, but Wright gobbling up north of 22 minutes a game should assist with their team detail. Winning key defensive zone face-offs and matching up against top end opponents is just as important as producing offence when executed properly.
The Business of Hockey
Having Wright return to the OHL is good for business. The Spitfires have averaged 4,226 fans per game so far this season. Their home arena, the WFCU Centre, has a capacity of 6,500 for hockey. The acquisition of Wright sends a positive message to their fan base and community. It’s safe to assume attendance will rise for their home games, with the potential of more playoff gates adding an extra layer of excitement for the ownership group.
Player Development Message
Here’s a look at my Shane Wright evaluation card. Notice how disjointed it is. He hasn’t played a consistent amount of hockey since being drafted by Seattle in July. What he needs the most is a consistent routine. His scoring stats playing for Kingston last season were very strong. Wright’s confidence will only increase once he settles into a consistent daily schedule.