Shane Wright Could Join Elite Club in 2021-22

All of the chatter about Shane Wright during the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) hiatus has been about him being the No. 1 overall selection in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft and how he will have the chance to lead Canada to a gold medal at the World Junior Championship when they head back to Edmonton and Red Deer again at Christmas time. Very little has been said about a milestone so rare that it hasn’t been hit since the 2006-07 season when three players went beyond 130 points, but it is in the realm of possibility for Wright in his draft year.

130 Points Is Beyond Rare

You can’t talk about the 130-point milestone in the OHL and not look at the 2006-07 season for at least some amount of time. It was truly a remarkable season that saw three different players eclipse the 130-point mark and one more come close. Patrick Kane led the OHL in scoring in his lone season in the league, scoring 145 points in 58 games. An absolutely flooring 2.5 points per game is virtually unheard of in modern hockey, even in the major junior ranks. Another player you may or may not have heard of that reached 130-plus points was John Tavares. He scored 134 points in 67 games, an incredibly impressive two points per game, but nothing compared to what Kane was able to do. The third player to get to 130-plus was Kane’s teammate in London, Sergei Kostitsyn. Kostitsyn scored 131 points in 59 games.

Patrick Kane Chicago Blackhawks
Former London Knights forward Patrick Kane with the Chicago Blackhawks of the NHL (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)

There was one more player who came close and had he played just one or two more games, he likely would have reached the 130-point mark. Tyler Donati of the Belleville Bulls scored a whopping 129 points in 66 games in his final OHL season after bouncing around between Toronto and Oshawa for a couple of seasons. However, the craziest thing about Donati’s story is that he has never played a game in the NHL. He stands in 64th on the all-time OHL scoring leaderboard, but never got to the highest level.

Since the 2006-07 season, no one has reached the 130-point mark and only two players have really come close. In 2013-14, Connor Brown scored 128 points playing with the Erie Otters, and in 2016-17, Alex DeBrincat scored 127 points playing with a very different-looking Otters team. It’s possible that Marco Rossi could have scored 10 more points in the 2019-20 season in the final six games the Ottawa 67’s had left to play, but he was the only one who even came close since DeBrincat in 2016-17.

As you can see, this isn’t something that comes easily anymore. Back in the day, it was common to see players top the 130-point mark every season, but that just isn’t the case in the modern game. It’s exceptionally difficult and takes a lot of luck to make it happen, but good players produce in heaps when surrounded by good players.

Why Wright Could Do It

When it comes to picking players who are capable of doing it this OHL season, the buck stops (and starts) with Wright. In his rookie season, he scored 66 points in 58 games, good for just over a point per game in his exceptional status season. In comparison, Connor McDavid, who many people consider to be the best player in the NHL today, scored the exact same number of points (66) in 63 games in his exceptional status season. This doesn’t mean that Wright is a better player than McDavid or anything, but it does show you just how talented Wright actually is.

Related: Frontenacs’ Shane Wright Tops McDavid’s Rookie Season

Entering his draft year, we can only imagine just how good Wright is right now. When he played for Team Canada at the World U18 Championship in Texas earlier this year, he scored 14 points in only five games and looked very good for a player who hadn’t played a competitive hockey game in about a year. For the sake of argument and because it’s impossible to know, let’s just go ahead and assume that he is able to maintain a very high level of play compared to those around him and will be able to elevate his play right from the start of the season.

Shane Wright Kingston Frontenacs
Shane Wright of the Kingston Frontenacs. (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Going into the 2021-22 OHL season, Wright looks like the early favourite to be the league’s top scorer and best player. The team that he plays for doesn’t look too shabby either. When we last saw them, the Kingston Frontenacs were battling with the Niagara IceDogs for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but now, they are likely to be Memorial Cup contenders. That matters when it comes to getting Wright over the 130-point mark. Playing alongside players like Zayde Wisdom, Francesco Arcuri, Vitali Pinchuk, and Martin Chromiak, who will have all taken the next two or three steps in their development, will allow Wright to rely on his teammates to make things happen.

For a supremely talented player like Wright, he could have nights where he scored seven or eight points in games where the Frontenacs take advantage of their weaker opponents. Of course, they will play through Wright and allow him to be the leader that he is. He was given the alternate captain’s “A” in 2019-20, proving that the team trusts not only who he is as a player on the ice, but also what he is as a person off the ice. If there was anyone capable of doing it this season, it’s Wright.

What Stands In His Way

For all of the reasons listed that suggest Wright will be able to get to 130 points, there are also some pretty undeniable reasons why he might not. There are two main ones that come to mind. Starting at the beginning of the season, you have to wonder if he will be all the way up to speed. Will he be able to hit the ice and play his very best hockey? This is more of a thing that we are just going to have to wait and see about, but it is worth noting that a slow start could ruin a bid for 130-plus points before it even starts.

The more realistic thing that could thwart his efforts to reach the milestone is being involved in the World Junior Hockey Championship in Edmonton and Red Deer in December. As of right now, exactly how many games Wright will miss is still to be determined, but considering the tournament is being played in Canada, it should be fewer than if it was being played in Europe, for example. If he were to get on a plane the second the final game is done and play for the Frontenacs as soon as he returned home, he would miss only three games, but that likely wouldn’t happen. It’s more likely that he would miss about five or more games, meaning that he would need to average just over two points per game assuming he plays every other game in the season.

If getting to 130 points was easy, it would be done all the time. Some of the greatest players to come through the OHL didn’t get to the milestone and Wright won’t be in for an easy ride there. He has the talent, it’s just a matter of a lot of things going right for him.