Shane Wright poses for photos after being selected by the Seattle Kraken with the fourth pick in the NHL draft on Thursday in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP)

Shane Wright poses for photos after being selected by the Seattle Kraken with the fourth pick in the NHL draft on Thursday in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP)

Kraken select Wright with No. 4 pick in NHL draft

The 18-year-old Canadian center was frequently projected to go No. 1.

  • By Geoff Baker The Seattle Times
  • Thursday, July 7, 2022 6:44pm
  • SportsKraken

By Geoff Baker / The Seattle Times

MONTREAL, Quebec — Arguably the most discussed, dissected, lauded and criticized junior hockey player of the past two years is headed to the Emerald City to provide the Seattle Kraken some dramatically boosted prospect depth up the middle.

And the Kraken hope that once Shane Wright adjusts to professional hockey, he and future teammate Matty Beniers can dominate opponents at the NHL level the way they did in the junior and college ranks. Stunned gasps erupted around the Bell Centre on Thursday night as the opening picks of the NHL entry draft went nothing like expected and saw tenuously-projected No. 1 choice Wright tumble instead into the Kraken’s hands at No. 4.

“I was drafted by an NHL franchise,” Wright, a star center with the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League, said when asked how he was processing the night’s developments. “I was drafted by a team with a lot of potential. It’s a great city with a great fan base. Obviously, you want to go first. It’s definitely something every guy wants to be able to do going into the draft.

“But I couldn’t be happier with being in Seattle. I couldn’t be happier with being a Kraken. I’m really excited about the future I have in Seattle.”

Wright admitted he’ll use this night as motivation as well.

“I’m definitely going to have a chip on my shoulder from this, that’s for sure,” he said.

The Montreal Canadiens signaled it was going to be a very different night than many expected, causing their thousands of hometown fans in attendance to erupt in cheers, boos and flat-out astonishment when they bypassed Wright and selected Slovakian winger Juraj Slafkovski with their top pick. Slafkovski’s countryman, defenseman Simon Nemec — who many figured the Kraken would select at No. 4 — then went to the New Jersey Devils two spots higher than most forecasts, given that team is already stacked with young talent at the center position.

It was the first time two Slovakian players had even been picked in the top 10 the same year, let alone at 1-2.

The Arizona Coyotes then bypassed Wright at No. 3 as well, opting instead for a hometown choice in Scottsdale native Logan Cooley from the U.S. National Team Development Program. All of a sudden, instead of picking from some projected next-tier defensemen or forwards, the Kraken had a shot at Wright, a player touted as perhaps the most NHL-ready player in the draft.

Wright has been making headlines the past three years since being granted exceptional player status to be drafted into the OHL at age 15 instead of 16. Then, in his debut age 16 season, he immediately established himself as a potential No. 1 NHL pick by scoring 39 goals and adding 27 assists in a COVID-19-shortened 58 game schedule.

His star then faded somewhat as the OHL shut down the following season. Upon his return this past campaign, Wright still put up an impressive 32 goals and 62 assists over 63 games — far exceeding his point-per-game output of two years prior.

Still, the expectations created by his 39-goal rookie season caused some disappointment and talk that the Canadiens might go with somebody else at No. 1.

Nonetheless, Wright had awoken in Montreal on Thursday thinking he’d be starting his career in this city as well. Instead, with the Canadiens taking Slafkovski, Wright is headed to the West Coast to join top prospect Beniers, taken at No. 2 overall last season and now planning to break training camp with the Kraken this October.

Whether Wright gets a shot at doing that right away as well remains to be seen. He’d be a top choice for Canada at the upcoming IIHF 2022 World Junior Hockey Championships next month. He could rejoin his OHL team for another season or start with the Kraken and then be returned early to the junior ranks if he doesn’t appear in more than nine NHL games.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Sports

Vote for The Herald’s Prep Athlete of the Week for Feb. 26-March 3

The Athlete of the Week nominees for Feb. 26-March 3. Voting closes… Continue reading

Silvertips prove they can contend with WHL’s best

Everett slugged it out with Eastern Conference contender Moose Jaw in an entertaining 8-7 shootout loss over the weekend.

Glacier Peak’s Jo Lee (2) shoots the ball during a 4A semifinal game between Glacier Peak and Richland at the Tacoma Dome on Friday, March 1, 2024 in Tacoma, Washington. Glacier Peak fell, 70-59. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Five locals named to state basketball all-tournament teams

Everett senior Alana Washington and King’s sophomore Kaleo Anderson led the way with first-team selections.

Seattle Mariners' Dominic Canzone looks for a pitch during a spring training baseball game against the Oakland Athletics, Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Peoria, Ariz. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)
Dominic Canzone ranks high on the list of Mariners’ top breakout candidates

The team is bullish on the bulked-up outfielder’s abilities.

FILE - Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Dec. 16, 2023, in Detroit. The Broncos told Wilson, Monday, March 4, 2024, that they are going to release him next week, just 18 months after signing the Super Bowl-winning quarterback to a five-year, $242 million contract extension. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson, File)
Broncos inform Russell Wilson they’ll release him

Denver will take a record $89 million hit in dead cap charges over the next two seasons.

State basketball roundup for Saturday, March 2

State basketball roundup for Saturday, March 2: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report… Continue reading

Richland’s Landen Northrop (1) shoots the ball during a 4A semifinal game between Glacier Peak and Richland at the Tacoma Dome on Friday, March 1, 2024 in Tacoma, Washington. Glacier Peak fell, 70-59. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Glacier Peak boys fade late against Richland in 4A state semifinals

An 11-0 closing run by the Bombers hands the Grizzlies a 70-59 loss.

Mead’s Teryn Gardner (24) moves with the ball during a 3A semifinal game between Snohomish and Mead at the Tacoma Dome on Friday, March 1, 2024 in Tacoma, Washington. Snohomiosh fell, 56-50. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish girls get rolling too late, fall to Mead in 3A state semifinals

Snohomish makes a valiant second-half push, but comes up short 56-50 against the well-balanced top seed.

State basketball roundup for Friday, March 1

State basketball prep roundup for Friday, March 1: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To… Continue reading

Seattle Mariners relief pitcher Matt Brash delivers during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros, Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/Kevin M. Cox)
Mariners get relieving injury update on Matt Brash

The hard-throwing reliever won’t need surgery. Plus, updates on injuries to Gregory Santos and Luis Urias.

Washington quarterback Michael Penix speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Friday, March 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Penix Jr. confident he’s answered concerns at NFL combine

Varying national reports have stated the UW quarterback has impressed teams in formal meetings

Snohomish junior Tyler Gildersleeve-Stiles hits the floor trying to get the ball during a WIAA 3A Girls Basketball quarterfinal against Arlington on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Snohomish girls lock down Arlington, advance to 3A state semifinals

The Panthers run away a 45-25 victory in a rubber match between the Wesco rivals.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.