It’s been a roller-coaster of a season for Shane Wright. The hockey phenom was projected to go first overall in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft ever since the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) granted him exceptional status to enter the league a year early in 2019. 

The 19 year old made headlines at the 2022 draft, but not because any teams picked him first overall; instead, he dropped to the fourth overall pick and the Seattle Kraken drafted him. 

Wright’s NHL career did not start the way he had hoped. He appeared in eight games for the Kraken, scoring two points and being a healthy scratch most nights, before the Kraken sent him to the minors, where he looked more like himself scoring four goals in five games. When he returned to the Kraken, he scored his first NHL goal in a ‘revenge game’ against the Montreal Canadiens. After this, Krakens loaned him to the World Juniors where he captained Team Canada to a gold medal. 

Unlike many top picks in recent years, Wright hasn’t shown right away that he’s a consistent NHL player, leading many fans to ask the question: is Wright a bust? 

At Wright’s age it’s reasonable to say that he hasn’t lived up to expectations in his short career. However, his shortcomings could be more a product of the Kraken’s development of Wright rather than his abilities. The Varsity sat down with Seattle Kraken writer RJ Eskanos from Emerald City Hockey to talk about Wright’s season with the Krak.

Eskanos said that Wright’s lack of playing time was a product of the Kraken’s forward depth exceeding expectations. “Seattle had some of the best depth scoring in the NHL this year. If you look at the number of unique goalscorers — they’re number one in the league.”

After finishing last in the Pacific Division in 2022, the Kraken are third in the Pacific in 2023 and are currently in a playoff spot. Eskanos went on about how general manager Ron Francis specially impacted the team.

“The moves Ron Francis made in the offseason have pretty much all panned out and, all of the sudden, they’re an incredibly deep team. They’re scoring a ton of goals per game.” 

Due to the Kraken’s newfound success, Wright spent the majority of his days in Seattle in the press box. Because of that, he didn’t play with the same confidence that he did with the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL. There was a feeling-out process for Wright in his first few NHL games. The goal for him for the rest of the season is to get his ‘game’ back on. 

Wright’s dominance in the American Hockey League (AHL) and his impressive game against the Canadiens helped him secure a loan to the World Juniors. After the tournament, Krakens sent Wright to the Coachella Valley Firebirds of the AHL, who then traded him to the Windsor Spitfires at the trade deadline. The key for Wright in the second half of the season is to perform well in junior, and be hungry and confident-going into the next season.

All in all, it’s way too early to call Wright a bust, but a strong return to the OHL will help change the narratives around him.