Frontenacs’ Wright Proving Doubters Wrong As Top Prospect

Heading into the 2021-22 season, Kingston Frontenacs centre Shane Wright was the presumptive first overall pick for the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. From his days with the Don Mills Flyers of the GTHL, Wright had all the makings of a potential elite level player in the NHL. He would always be a factor on the ice as a younger player.

He was granted exceptional status and was showcasing his dominance as a rookie in the Ontario Hockey League in the 2019-20 season. He was one goal shy of a 40-goal season, leading all rookies in that category and in points with 66. The next closest was Mason McTavish. He was on-pace to beat John Tavares’ rookie campaign and had topped Connor McDavid in his first season

Related: 2022 NHL Entry Draft: Baracchini’s Mock Draft 2.0

Wright even dominated at the World U18 Championships captaining Canada to a gold medal in 2021 and was tied for second in tournament scoring. Along with many other OHLers, he lost a full season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

At the start of his draft season, his play was average. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad and many wondered if he is worth being a first overall pick. Over the last few months, Wright is definitely proving everyone wrong and is showing why he’s still the first overall pick in this draft. 

Early Season Criticism

Wright definitely didn’t have the start many had hoped for when the OHL season began. While he did show the skillset and awareness as a centreman, the production was lacking. In the first two months he only had 22 points in 19 games. 

Shane Wright Kingston Frontenacs
Shane Wright, Kingston Frontenacs (Brandon Taylor/OHL Images)

Still above a point per game, but it left many so much wanting more as he did go pointless in seven games. Many had hoped for him to go off offensively, much like he did as a 17-year-old at the U18s. As a result, scouts started to take note of him not going above and beyond. Even his play at the shortened World Juniors, he wasn’t as noticeable. 

In TSN’s Bob McKenzie’s mid-season rankings, the reviews with Wright were less than stellar. Scouts didn’t see the urgency that they wanted or the dominance that comes with being a first overall pick. 

Another scout said that the first overall pick was still up for grabs. 

It was fair to say that Wright wasn’t producing at a first-overall pace and there could be a number of reasons why. As the top prospect, teams may have taken note and have doubled up their coverage on him, knowing that he has a powerful release and great control of the puck. They want to make life difficult for him. He has 172 shots on goal, so it’s not for a lack of trying to generate chances or being disinterested. 

The following is a clip from THW’s Prospect Corner where we discussed Wright’s play.

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Wright is a player that has shown to be extremely competitive in the past. Even as a 15-year-old in his rookie season, he was absolutely dominant. There were times this season where maybe he did need to find that extra gear and power through like he has in the past. Even when the points weren’t going, he was consistent with his off the puck play in his own end and his decision making. 

There’s also the pressure of living up to expectations and it does weigh on younger players. Even with the talk and criticism of his game, Wright has been able to block out the noise

Proving the Doubters Wrong

It seemed that as soon as the calendar flipped to December, Wright started to find his groove with the offensive production that was lacking previously. Since the “rough start”, in his last 26 games, Wright has tallied 41 points with a 1.58 points per game average with 12 multi-point games. 

Even looking at some deeper numbers Wright is still very productive at even strength. In the games tracked among draft eligible players at Pick224, his 39 primary points has him sixth in that category. He also has a respectable 1.05 primary points per game average and a 0.70 even strength primary points per game average. He’s doing some major damage offensively, despite the slow production to start the season. 

Shane Wright Kingston Frontenacs
Shane Wright, Kingston Frontenacs (Photo by Robert Lefebvre/OHL Images)

While Wright has a wicked release and accuracy, he’s taken the reigns of also being a very dynamic playmaker and puck distributor as he has 42 assists this season. This is making him a more dynamic and offensive threat picking his spots on net and finding his teammates with precision. Also, something to keep an eye on, he is projected to score 90 points this season. 

In addition, you still witness the elite level vision, work ethic and two-way play that he has been known for in the past. His smarts and attention to detail to make subtle plays and be dangerous in all situations, makes him very lethal and a reason why he’s still a first overall pick. The elite level vision, work ethic and two-way play that he’s been known for in the past is still on display and something that was still a strength in his game early on. That alone makes him worthy of still being the top prospect. That alone is why he’s at the top of my rankings

To be on-pace for 90 points is great production for any player. Now, Wright may not be a high producing player in the NHL, but if he’s capable of being a 30-goal, 70-point, two-way centreman that has similar traits to Patrice Bergeron, why wouldn’t you want to take him first overall?

Capable of Making the Highlight Reel

While he may not be as flashy as McDavid, Wright is definitely worthy of finding the highlight reel from time to time.

Wright makes a fantastic no look bank shot goal off the skate of the goaltender. This is a fantastic high-end play from a high-end player. While there may have been some luck involved, this clip encompasses Wright’s work ethic, awareness and anticipation.

Wright is able to force a turnover and is able to get the puck to teammate Martin Chromiak. As Wright makes a line for the net, Chromiak gets a shot off. Wright is in a prime spot to pick up the rebound. While he’s on a bad angle he’s able to quickly throw the puck and make the bank shot for the goal. 

Without his ability to force a mistake and reading the play extremely well, there would probably be no goal. Wright’s skillset and determination was on full display.

Then there’s this clip of his wicked shot and accuracy.

Wright is able to quickly get in position on his strong side. As he inches towards the net, he takes a brief second to line up his shot and uses his quick flick of the wrist to wire it on the opposite corner. The power and quickness he has behind his shot, has fooled a lot of goaltenders in the past and he will continue to do so.

While the early season struggles casted some doubt on Wright’s projection as a number one prospect, he has bounced back in a big way to still keep him at the top. His awareness and IQ alone make him a reason to go first overall. While others may still challenge him for the spot, he still manages to create some separation in the rankings between the others.

Statistics from Pick224 and OHL.

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