Home sport “He’s obviously a very good player.”

“He’s obviously a very good player.”

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Hershey, Pennsylvania – Shane Wright The path to NHL stardom isn’t a straight line, but by all evidence from this past year, he’s on his way to getting there.

After being drafted fourth overall by the Kraken in the 2022 NHL Draft, the 19-year-old Canadian center enjoyed a rookie professional season, playing four Various teams such as Seattle have tried to maximize his experience and make the most of the rules of his entry-level contract.

Wright is building a rapidly developing Kraken team next season, but his final stop in the 2022-23 campaign puts him on the AHL’s Coachella Valley Firebirds in Seattle as they take on the Hershey Bears in the 2023 Calder Cup Final.

Wright has scored three points—all assists—in four championship series games so far, including two stunning plays in Games 3 and 4 in Hershey. Wright did it From the team’s fourth line It focuses on AHL veterans Karsen Twarinski and Austin Bojanski.

Wright’s first assist came at 6:33 in the third period of Game 3.

After a turn by defender Gabriel Karlsson from the Bears onto the sideboards, Wright picked up the puck, slid it into the offensive zone and found Twarinski with an icy hard pass. Twarinski beat Bears goaltender Hunter Shepherd, who was trying to recover on the other side, with a quick shot to the short side of the net.

The goal put the Firebirds back in the game and cut Hershey’s lead to 3-2. Coachella Valley would lose 5-4 in overtime.

Thursday in Game 4, Wright had an assist on Austin Boganski’s goal who had similar characteristics.

Wright carried the puck down the left wing and stopped on a dime, avoiding a poke shot by the Bears’ Logan Day. He then fires another shot at Bojanski, who fires quickly and hits Shepherd on the other side.

The goal tied it 1-1 going into halftime, but the Firebirds would lose 3-2.

Both plays showed what makes Wright special and hard to defend.

“He has great speed, skill, and vision with the puck and creates opportunities for others around him,” Firebirds coach Dan Blisma (PIT, 2009 Stanley Cup) said after Game 4. “He had two great matches. Match three and one again.” [in Game Four] I thought you would play better. But how the game went, the solid play, the killer shots on goal, kept us from putting it on the ice more. It’s something I have to talk about as a coach. »

“He’s young and skillful, isn’t he?” Logan Day said he sees the ice well. He made a game out of hell. » [tonight in Game Four]. But we just have to stay on top. We also have a lot of older guys on the team, who’ve been here, who’ve filled that position. So if we stay on top, let’s stay with him physically, and hopefully slow him down. »

Wright is one of Coachella Valley’s most talented and experienced players. His use of the back six is ​​part of what makes the Firebirds such a dangerous and fast team. Coachella Valley also includes forward Ty Carty, who has five points in 10 playoff games with Seattle, and 30 AHL goalscoring Collie Lind, a 2017 second-round draft pick from the Vancouver Canucks. On defense, Ryker Evans, a 2021 Kraken second-round draft pick, has 22 points in 23 post-season games.

” I have not seen [Shane Wright] “A lot, except for our series,” said Hershey Bears coach Todd Nelson. “But he’s a smart hockey player. He’s got talent [makes] He plays. They have a lot of players like that. They’re just a serious hockey team. It is a credit to them and their coaching staff. They keep us on our toes. Every moment counts against this team. We cannot do a shift or part of that shift because they will charge you a fee. »

While he admitted that he tries not to worry about one player in particular, Hunter Shepherd admitted that Wright was noticeable on the ice.

“He’s obviously a very good player,” said the Bears goaltender. He was picked high in the draft for a reason. And so they got a lot of men [who are] An offensive skill there, so it’s tough. I mean, you can cover it well and I can play it well, and sometimes there are guys who play really well or hit a really good shot. It’s just their team. »

If the Firebirds are able to win the Calder Cup, the championship will be Wright’s second of the season. He also led Team Canada to the gold medal at the 2023 World Junior Championships after scoring seven points (4g, 3a) in seven games at the tournament.

Wright’s season began in Seattle after the Kraken were pulled from training camp. But Wright got a little ice time from Kraken head coach Dave Huxtol, averaging 8:29 ice time. In his seventh NHL game, Wright suffered a lower body injury against the Pittsburgh Penguins on November 5.

Despite being ineligible to play in the AHL during the regular season due to his age, Kraken found a way around this problem by sending Wright to a five-game rehab with Coachella Valley from November 22-3. He played three games there, including two goals against the Calgary Wranglers on November 24.

At the end of his tenure, Wright returned to Seattle for his eighth NHL game of the season and scored his first career NHL goal against the Montreal Canadiens.

Soon he was kicked out of the team. If you see him play 10 games in the NHL or he’s on Kraken’s roster for 40 games, the first year of his entry-level contract will take effect, so Kraken loaned him out to Team Canada for the World Junior Championships.

After Wright won the gold medal, Seattle reassigned his prospect to the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey Association of Ontario on January 6, 2023. Three days later I saw he was traded by Kingston to the Windsor Spitfires in a huge deal.

Wright had 37 points (15G, 22A) in 20 regular season games with the Spitfires, but the top-ranked team was upset in the first round of the OHL playoffs by the eighth-ranked Kitchener Rangers. Saw was then assigned back to the Coachella Valley Firebirds where he still plays.

Wright’s adventurous year comes after he was in the spotlight as junior scouts and recruiting analysts criticized his stellar play. Wright spent most of the 2021-22 season as the default first pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, but lost three points on draft day when the Montreal Canadiens selected Juraj Slafkovský over him.

In an article on The Athletic, Corey Brunman explained the slide by saying that scouts thought Wright was “very good, but nothing special” and that “there is no elite in his game.”

But Wright appeared in the 2023 Calder Cup Final and showed impressive mental toughness, professionalism and tenacity throughout the year as he jumped from team to team.

Wright had one of the longest seasons of any hockey player in the world, playing games from mid-October through mid-June. It’s a special year for an exceptional player, who has the potential to soon do great things in the NHL.

Note: Firebirds PR, through a spokesperson for the Hershey Bears, declined Wright’s request to speak for this article.

Banner photo: Mike Zettek / Coachella Valley Firebirds

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