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Shane Wright Has a Chip on His Shoulder

Shane Wright is as mature and composed as it gets, but he's got a chip on his shoulder now, and he's hoping to show why he was so highly rated heading into the draft.
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MONTREAL - Oh my.

It's fitting that the first draft in person since 2019 would have a level of chaos we haven't seen in what feels like forever. Shane Wright, the projected top prospect all season long, wasn't taken first by Montreal. New Jersey passed on him for second. Arizona chose Logan Cooley at No. 3.

And the Seattle Kraken received an absolute gift with the fourth pick.

The shock on everyone's face when Juraj Slafkovsky's name was announced as the first pick was a sight to be seen. Dozens of fans wearing No. 51 Wright jerseys were thrust into utter confusion. None of it made sense.

If Wright had any strong feelings about the decision, he did a good job of hiding it. And if you've ever talked to Wright, you wouldn't expect anything different.

"I'm great," Wright said when asked about his reaction to the pick. "I was drafted by NHL franchise. I was drafted by a team with a lot of potential with a great city and a great fan base."

No one can argue about the last part: the Kraken literally has the smallest prospect base in the game right now, with Matty Beniers looking like the only true high-end prospect in the system before Wright, who earned exceptional status into the OHL after a 150-point season in 2018-19. Wright had 94 points -- and he himself said it wasn't his best season -- but he still managed over a point per game in every month of the season and truly developed his two-way game better than expected.

There was always extra pressure on Wright to live up to the high expectations, but he didn't have a normal path to the draft table. He earned exception status to the OHL and played a season with Kingston before having it cut short due to COVID-19, only to lose all of 2020-21 outside of winning gold at the U-18 World Championship. The closest thing he had to a normal year was this past season, and the pressure was ramped up to the extreme.

And not that the other top prospects didn't have that problem, but players like Slafkovsky, Nemec and Cooley still managed to have normal seasons in 2020-21. That put Wright behind immediately, but he still remained atop of draft boards all year long.

Now that the pick was made and he has his team, he can finally set focus on the next steps of his NHL career.

"It's kind of nice to have it done, I can focus on other things (like) development camp and prepare for training camp," Wright said. "But I want to soak all this in, the draft experience. We're fortunate to have this in person this year."

Positive vibes only for Wright. And Wright had every reason to be upset. He's a teenager -- you expect emotions. If you've been the top projected player all year long, and then you don't even get picked in the top three, it definitely has to hurt. 

"There wasn't anything I could do to change the direction of what the teams thought," Wright said. "There was no reason to be nervous because, at the end of the day, it was out of my control."

Wright's maturity was adamant in his post-draft comments, even if he made it clear he's ready to prove the teams that passed over him wrong. And he's ready with whatever happens next, whether he returns to junior or if he's in Seattle's opening night roster this October.

"I'm gonna have a chip on my shoulder from this," Wright said. "It gives me more motivation. I've always been self-motivated, always been pushing myself internally, but this is definitely gonna give me a little more fire for sure."

Whether or not he makes the NHL right away, Wright has something to prove. And he's fully capable of making teams look stupid on the ice, and, soon, perhaps off the ice. Will the Habs, Devils or Coyotes regret it down the line? 

Wright sure hopes so, even if he won't say it out loud. Get ready for the Shane Wright revenge tour, folks.

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