After leading Team Canada to an epic gold medal win at the 2023 World Juniors, Shane Wright is headed back to the OHL, at least for now, with a chance to make history.
The Seattle Kraken announced on Friday that their 2022 fourth overall selection will be loaned back to the Kingston Frontenacs, though his destination could reportedly change very soon.
“If we’re bringing him back to Seattle after the tournament, we wanted to have him playing,” Kraken general manager Ron Francis told The Seattle Times. “And right now, I couldn’t say we’d be putting him in the lineup the way the guys are playing and the team’s playing.
“But the bigger picture is, we’re not disappointed with his World Juniors. We’re not disappointed with how things have gone. He’s 18, just turned 19 yesterday. We think he’s done a lot of great things.
“His tournament here was outstanding. He may not have gotten the points that maybe people were expecting, but I thought his leadership on and off the ice and how he played was tremendous."
NHL insiders including Frank Seravalli have indicated that the 19-year-old is likely to be moved to a contender ahead of Tuesday’s Ontario Hockey League trade deadline.
The Frontenacs, having lost significant parts of their core from last season alongside Wright, are currently fifth in the OHL’s Eastern Conference, treading water with a middling 17-15-1-1 record. Last season's Kingston team ultimately finished third in their conference, but bowed out in just five games to the North Bay Battalion in the second round of the OHL playoffs.
Among the teams expected to be in the mix to land the former exceptional status star include the Peterborough Petes and Barrie Colts, both of whom look to be contenders to win this year’s J. Ross Robertson Cup. The Petes are currently in third place in the East, while the Colts sit fourth, just one point back of Peterborough with three games in hand.
Coincidentally or not, two of Wright's closest friends and teammates in Brennan Othmann and Brandt Clarke, whom Wright has played multiple times with dating back to his days with the GTHL’s Don Mills Flyers, play for each of those clubs respectively (Clarke, like Wright, seems likely to return to the OHL in the coming days).
A return to the OHL will have multiple implications for Wright, both this season and moving forward. For the Kraken, Wright will be eligible for an entry-level contract slide having dressed for just eight games, allowing them to avoid burning the first year of his contract.
Wright could also add his name to an exclusive list of players to win gold at the World Junior Championship and a Memorial Cup in the same year. Just 25 players have captured both in the same year according to TSN, with New York Islanders prospect William Dufour the most recent player to accomplish the feat this past summer.
In the NHL this season, Wright has registered just one goal and one assist in eight games with the Kraken. He also scored four goals in five games during an AHL conditioning stint with Coachella Valley Firebirds in late November.
Wright played 63 games, scoring 32 goals and adding 62 assists for 94 points with the Kingston Frontenacs during the 2021-22 season
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