It’s not often you settle into a new working environment and celebrate a milestone with a dousing of water, leaving trails of liquid all over the hallway floor.
But this is no ordinary work environment, this is no ordinary worker, and this is no ordinary moment.
Shane Wright, an extraordinary center who was drafted fourth overall by the Seattle Kraken at last week’s NHL Draft in Montreal, only needed three days to make an impression worthy enough of his first NHL contract.
Upon completing his development camp scrimmage win on Wednesday at a packed-out Kraken Community Ice, Wright was presented with a three-year NHL entry level contract by Kraken general manager Ron Francis. Wright promptly signed the deal, celebrated with a fish toss into the crowd per postgame victory customs, and then exited into the dressing room to enjoy a drenching moment with water, poured on by teammates who huddled around Wright.
“Little refreshing getting some water dumped on me,” said Wright. “It’s great having support of the guys there – and many I’ve met for the first time this week.
“I kind of knew I was going to sign sometime this week, but I didn’t know it was going to be like that. Pretty cool, super honored, and super excited to sign my first contract.”
Wright comes off a 94-point season with OHL Kingston and for months, as a budding offensive dynamo, was the projected first overall pick in the draft before Montreal preferred and selected emerging winger Juraj Slafkovsky, last week at Bell Centre.
Wright shook off the change with an immediate embrace for Seattle’s future and his new hometown, one he hopes to make as early as this next season.
"This kid's been under the microscope for years," said Kraken general manager Ron Francis. "I had a chat with him the other day, and said all I want for him is to go play hockey and have some fun."
"The pressure is gone whether or not he's number one. The fact that he went to number four is irrelevant. We were really excited he went to four."
It is not customary for 18-year-old drafted players to immediately step into the NHL. Wright could still technically be sent back to Kingston and his contract would not kick in until he plays at least ten NHL games. But Wright, who was granted exceptional status as a 15-year in the Ontario Hockey League, is betting on himself to immediately step into the lineup at his young age, precisely as current stars Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby did.
“I’ve got to get myself ready for training camp,” said Wright. “That’s the next step in the journey – get to training camp and earn my spot on the team.”
“I want to be a part of this team next year.”
With Wright under contract, the Kraken have a one-two punch at center secured for the long-term future in Wright and Matty Beniers, each drafted in the first round nearly 12 months apart. Francis stopped short of guaranteeing Wright would make the team right away and stay, but many have suggested Wright's game is NHL ready, while veterans such as Jordan Eberle, Jared McCann, Yanni Gourde, and Jaden Schwartz will be in the same dressing room for guidance.
"First and foremost like everybody, they've got an opportunity to make our team in camp and they have to earn that spot," said Francis. "I'm not sitting here saying Shane's going to be our lineup, but he's going to have an opportunity like everybody else to crack that lineup. If he does, I'm not worried about the youth aspect."
Last season, Wright was named Canadian Hockey League top prospect of the year and entered the draft as the top ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting.