Kraken Need to Play Shane Wright More

When Shane Wright fell to the Seattle Kraken at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, everyone was ecstatic. Not often is a projected first-overall pick available at fourth overall. After a strong training camp and preseason, he made the opening night roster, but now questions about his deployment have arisen. Here is a look at what has happened during his first three games and why it is problematic.

Wright’s First Three Games in the NHL

The Kraken have played five games so far this season, with Wright playing in three. Yes, despite his pedigree and decent first career game, he was scratched for the Kraken’s second and third games of the season. While the former fourth overall pick has been spectacular, part of that has to do with his deployment by coach Dave Hakstol. He has yet to see over seven minutes of ice time in a game and hasn’t been on the ice for a single power play minute. Add on the fact he is playing on the fourth line, and it leads one to wonder, what is Seattle doing when it comes to his early development?

Shane Wright Seattle Kraken
Shane Wright, Seattle Kraken (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Starting a rookie on the fourth line so they can get acclimated to the NHL is nothing new, but playing them under seven minutes a game is problematic. For comparison, let’s take a look at how Juraj Slafkovský, the first overall selection from the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, has faired so far this season. In four games also playing on the fourth line, the Slovakian winger is averaging 10:41 of ice time, with his lowest being 9:37. Stapling Wright to the bench is not the solution, and Seattle needs to find a way to get him more ice time so he can adjust to the NHL game sooner.

Related: Kraken Make the Wright Pick at Fourth Overall

The Kraken have already begun mixing up their lines after starting 1-2-2, which gives the team a perfect opportunity to give Wright more opportunities. That could even include trying him out on the wing with Yanni Gourde and Jared McCann and allowing him to play with more offensively-minded players. The organization needs to find a way to get him more ice time, plain and simple.

Beniers Comparison

Last season, the Kraken welcomed Matty Beniers into their lineup. While he had played an entire season prior to joining Seattle in mid-April, there has been a vast difference in the opportunities the two centers were given during their first three games. Wright is averaging 6:33 of ice time and was scratched in two of his first three games. As for the former 2021 second-overall pick, he averaged 18:23 of ice time, was given power play time right away and was placed on the team’s first line.

It is important to note that each situation is different, but it shows that the Kraken are willing to give young, promising players opportunities early in their careers. While Beniers had a great season in the NCAA with Michigan prior to joining Seattle, the team never got to see him in game action with the organization prior to him playing a game. Wright, on the other hand, played the entire preseason, developed chemistry with his teammates and even had success on the power play before playing in his first career game. This makes the decision around his early-season deployment even more baffling.

No Power Play Time for Wright?

As mentioned, Wright has not been given any power play time yet. Currently, the Kraken’s power play is the only thing keeping them afloat, as it has accounted for six of the team’s 14 goals so far this season. While some may argue to keep the units as is, giving the young center some time with the extra man may be the confidence boost he needs early in the season.

Related: Kraken 2022-23 Opening Night Special Team Projections

If coach Hakstol and his staff do not feel comfortable making Wright a permanent part of the power play, they can also rotate him in once in a while. If both units are struggling, they could throw him out for the last 20 seconds of a man advantage just to see how he does in a more offensive situation. The player gets more ice time and is shown that the coaching staff wants to put them in a position to succeed. Based on the way he played on the power play during the preseason, he deserves some special team ice time early in the season.

A Decision Must Be Made on Wright Soon

The Kraken are closing in on an important decision as they must choose whether or not to keep Wright through the whole season or send him back to the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). This decision is a double-edged sword as while some argue he will learn more being in the NHL, others will say sending him back down will let him dominate and build up his confidence. Regardless of the decision, he needs to play more and be given opportunities to continue developing into the potential superstar he can become.

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