He’s back with more confidence.
Also, we all knew this was coming, since the moment Shane Wright crossed the stage at the NHL Draft:
Tuesday, December 6, at 7pm on your ticket stubs. The Seattle Kraken vs. Montreal Canadiens, at Climate Pledge Arena.
Matchup number one (of how many down the road?) featuring the thrills, chills, and spills of Shane Wright versus Juraj Slafkovsky. The two players, picked fourth and first overall, respectively, are set to square off for the first time in their careers since that night at the draft, when Wright slid to fourth overall into the hands of the Kraken after Slafkovsky was the Canadiens draft audible at first overall.
Wright, the presumed first overall pick for months prior to that night, will play in the game and downplayed the matchup.
“I’m just going to treat it as another game,” said Wright.
At age 18 and just seven games into his first NHL season, he’s got more pressing matters to work on. For starters, he will play in his first NHL game since a recall from a five-game conditioning stint with the AHL affiliate Coachella Valley Firebirds, where he torched opposing teams for two weeks with four goals, taking full advantage of increased ice time and responsibilities.
Has it turned him into a new man? It remains to be seen for that kind of label in game action. Wright has one assist in seven NHL games, along with scant ice time, registering no more than a season high 13:45 to date. But it’s undeniable that more confidence exists in his game. He said it himself.
“Huge difference,” said Wright. “Definitely gaining a lot of confidence down (in the AHL), it’s nice playing a lot of high minutes, get a lot of touches, play the puck and play my game. Just be myself and regain that confidence in myself and my abilities.”
Though not a linemate, his next door dressing room stall neighbor Jordan Eberle said confidence can never have enough of a high rating.
“It all translates to here,” said Eberle. “You look at him today, he looked sharper around the ice and he looked like he was having a little bit more fun – and I think that’s a big thing in developing players.”
“Confidence is a big weapon in this league. You ask guys who are scoring goals, the net looks huge. You ask guys who don’t have it, and they can barely see it.”
Wright skated as a center with Brandon Tanev on the left wing and Daniel Sprong on the right wing, a hint at their potential linkage to the lineup on Tuesday night, when the talk likely begins, once again for better or worse, on the comparison between Wright and Slafkovsky.
Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol removed himself and any internal talk from the narrative of a passionate matchup between two players, full of promise while being compared and scrutinized since July, though just barely scratching the surface of their potential at a tender age of 18. But there is one humanizing element connected with Wright’s return on Tuesday, he pointed out.
“Emotion is part of the game,” said Hakstol.
“I want him to be excited to play for our team tomorrow. I know that’s how he’s going to feel.”
KRAKEN PRACTICE LINEUP, DEC. 5:
* Slotted as a suggested placeholder for Jaden Schwartz, who missed practice on Monday.