Shane Wright practically fell into the laps of the Seattle Kraken. In the 2022 NHL Draft the expected first overall pick fell all the way down to pick number four. Wright might not have been expected to be the next Connor McDavid, but seeing someone who was projected to go first overall for so long was more than a minor surprise.
Last season Wright was unable to become a mainstay in the Kraken lineup. He split the season between the Kraken, two different junior teams in the Kingston Frontenacs and the Windsor Spitfires, and two separate stints with the Kraken’s AHL affiliate the Coachella Valley Firebirds. Should the Kraken consider trading Wright?
The Seattle Kraken might not have enough room for top prospect Shane Wright. They selected him fourth overall in the 2022 NHL Draft.
No, they’re not “giving up” on him, but the reality is his path to Seattle is blocked unless he exceed even the wildest expectations at trading camp. The Kraken’s center core is already filled with reigning Calder Trophy winner Matty Berniers, Alexander Wennberg, Yanni Gourde and new addition Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. Daily Faceoff doesn’t project he will make the kraken’s opening lineup. NHL.com ranks him as Seattle’s top prospect who with a projected NHL arrival of “this season”. There’s the old saying “don’t have too many cooks in the kitchen”, but there might be too many centers in Seattle.
This is where things get complicated. Wright is still only 19 years old, making him ineligible to be in the AHL. The NHL has an agreement with the CHL that all players under the age of 20 who don’t make their NHL team’s roster will be returned to their junior team. Of course there are exceptions. Wright’s first stint in Coachella Valley last season was on a conditioning assignment, allowed under the agreement, and teams can apply for exemptions, which was commonplace during the 2020 and 2021 junior season shutdowns.
If the Kraken can’t find a place for Wright and he’s sent back to junior, he might grow impatient and see that as stunting his development. Spending not one, but two years in juniors after being drafted as a top five overall pick does make it seem like Wright would be justified. If the Kraken can’t find a place for them in their plans they should entertain trade offers. The Kraken are looking to build on the success of their first playoff appearance last year. Trading Wright could net them assets than help them compete in the short term instead of having to find places for Wright to wait in the wings for another year.
The rebuilding Arizona Coyotes may seem like a likely trade partner. Then again, they were one of the teams that passed over Wright in the draft, so they didn’t even want him when they didn’t have to give up assets. Arizona lucked out as well, drafting Logan Cooley, who spent last season as the consensus top prospect in the sport and is expected to turn pro this season.
Another dark horse candidate for Wright’s services could be the Boston Bruins. The Bruins infamously have lost both Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, their top to centers, to retirement this offseason. Currently Pavel Zacha sits at the top of their center depth chart. With no seemingly in house replacement for Krejci or Bergeron, there just might be a spot on Boston’s NHL roster for Wright, even if he starts off in the bottom six. With a year of NHL experience Wright might be able to help fill the shoes of either Bergeron or Krejci.
Another complicating factor is just how far Wright dropped on his draft day. Even teams that had no expectation of drafting Wright must have wondered what caused teams who had the chance to draft him to pass over him. Maybe the late ascent of Juraj Slafkovsky changed draft boards last minute? Maybe enough teams saw something the public didn’t that lead them to pass over Wright, and cast doubt on his status as a top prospect? Initial reaction said that scouts saw “nothing elite” or exciting enough in Wright’s game, potentially causing his draft stock to tumble.
The Kraken showed they can have success without Shane Wright. Matty Berniers has proven to be the franchise cornerstone Wright was expected to be for whatever team ended up drafting him. There’s a scenario where the Kraken hold onto Wright and eventually that center man’s spot opens up and he becomes a successful NHL player. The longer they wait, the longer the risk of his value dropping. Sell now while the value is high for pieces that can help you reach higher heights going into your third season.