Kraken GM Francis says Shane Wright unlikely to play for Canada at 2024 WJC

TORONTO — Shane Wright‘s trophy case will probably have to do with just one world junior gold medal.

Seattle Kraken general manager Ron Francis said Monday the 19-year-old forward is likely to skip the 2024 event despite still being eligible after he captained Canada to a home-soil triumph 10 months ago in Halifax.

Speaking to reporters at the PrimeTime sports convention, Francis added Hockey Canada knows the organization’s position on Wright ahead of the tournament in Gothenburg, Sweden.

“I think he’s kind of been there, done that,” Francis said. “I don’t see him being part of the world juniors.”

Canada will also no doubt be minus Chicago Blackhawks star Connor Bedard, while NHL teammate and fellow potential returnee Kevin Korchinski appears a longshot for a group that begins its title defence at the world junior hockey championship Dec. 26.

Wright, meanwhile, has had a rocky start to his professional career.

The Burlington, Ont., product was projected to go No. 1 at the 2022 draft, but instead dramatically dropped to fourth.

Wright had a goal and an assist in eight games with the Kraken last season. He was also repeatedly made a healthy scratch and demoted to the American Hockey League’s Coachella Firebirds before joining Canada’s world junior setup that December.

Wright spent the balance of the regular season in the Ontario Hockey League before heading back to the AHL for the playoffs.

The six-foot, 192-pound centre was sent to the AHL this fall following training camp, but put up four goals and six points in seven games in Coachella before getting recalled last week when Kraken forward Jordan Eberle was cut on the upper left part of his leg by a skate.

Francis said Seattle is “excited” about Wright – granted exceptional status to play in the OHL at age 15 – after working on specific parts of his game.

“Handling the puck through the neutral zone,” Francis said of one area that’s seen improvement. “He’s got great speed and good skills. We’re trying to get him to have that (shoot-first) mentality. He went down to Coachella, and that’s what he was doing.

“There’s a lot a lot of positives in what we see with his progress.”

Wright had one shot on goal in two games with the Kraken in 2023-24 heading into Monday’s action.

“He’s made huge steps,” Francis told the audience at the conference. “Unfortunately, it’s hard when you’re in a fourth-line role and you’re playing nine or 10 minutes a night to really have an impact.

“We’re comfortable with where he is and think he’s got a bright future with our organization.”