Shane Wright has been one of the biggest prospects in the juniors so far. With NHL teams like the Montreal Canadiens and Arizona Coyotes tanking just for a chance to have him in their lineup, he has a lot of pressure to live up to.
However, this season he has been quiet on the Kingston Frontenacs, and with the draft coming up the question a lot of people are asking is, "Is he still the number one prospect?"
To put a long answer short, yes, he is still the number one prospect. Every scout who has paid attention to Wright understands that even though he is having an underperforming year, he is still showcasing signs that he is the top prospect.
In a year that he is underperforming, Wright has been playing as well, or even better than a lot of first-round picks at their best. One huge difference this year from his first year in the OHL is his lack of scoring. In his first year at 15 years old, he scored 39 times on an underperforming Frontenacs team. He was at best scoring rookie that year and competed with players who were already drafted such as Toronto Maple Leafs’ prospect Nick Robertson.
This year he has only scored 13 goals and ranks 46th in the league. However, Wright has been improving on setting up other players for goals. In his 2019-20 year, he only got 27 assists. Only a little more than halfway through the season and he currently sits at 22 assists.
Hockey IQ is a phrase that can often feel like it’s used to fill in interviews. A player who is often said to have high hockey IQ is usually just smart at passing or knows where to shoot the puck. Wright is the definition of high hockey IQ.
His puck movement, decisions, and leadership on the ice showcase how smart of a player he is. In a world where we see more mistakes instead of the mistakes that weren’t made, Wright would be invisible because of how many mistakes other players would make but he doesn’t.
He isn’t a player this year that you can see his highlights or stats and make an idea about how he plays. You need to watch his full game and see him when no one else is watching.
Another player who has been in the mix for a possible first-overall draft is USA Hockey National Team Development Program player and Notre Dame committed Logan Cooley who has been having an amazing year of his own. If he doesn’t get first, he will get the second pick. But even though Cooley is having a better year than Wright it’s still not enough for scouts to pick him.
There are others that can possibly take the second pick from Cooley, but at the moment it does seem like the most impressive prospect other than Wright is him.
In the end, the scouts for each individual team will make their final decision on if Wright is the first overall pick. Although it shouldn’t be surprising that he is still first, with his two games in the World Juniors a lot of opinions from hockey fans haven’t been on his side.
Although it’s too soon to say if Wright is a franchise player or not, there are still many factors such as development that will play in for the next couple of years. But what Wright has is being a smart player and that is one of the most underestimated qualities especially in a sport that is moving away from a tough game into a fast game.
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