Shane Wright, the potential-star-in-the-making center for the Seattle Kraken at age 18, will get a chance to compete for a gold medal in the upcoming World Junior Championship in Halifax and Moncton.
Wright is expected to head to Team Canada’s camp in Moncton on Thursday, as reported by TSN’s Darren Dreger.
The 6-foot, 192-pound center is taking a detour in his first NHL season by joining Canada, with whom he is eligible to play for based on age and his hometown roots of Burlington, Ontario. With the tournament starting December 26, he is set to gain more high-leverage playing time over the next month against world class competition of his age group, rather than rotate through cyclical spurts of ice time and press box time as a healthy scratch and teenager, routine in his first two months as part of a healthy Kraken team needing little lineup changes while sitting in second place in the Pacific Division.
The idea and reality for Wright to join Canada grew earlier this week.
“Anytime you can represent your country on the World Junior stage, something you grew up watching, it’s never something you can pass up too easily,” said Wright after a Monday practice.
“Always a tough thing to pass up if the opportunity comes, for sure.”
Wright actually began this tangent two and a half weeks ago, commissioned to play in the American Hockey League for their top minor league squad, the Coachella Valley Firebirds on a two-week conditioning loan while the Kraken exercised a loophole to allow him to play in a league prohibiting Canadian Hockey League-developed prospects until they are 20 years old.
To refresh: Wright is a product of the CHL, out of the Kingston Frontenacs program, and could still be sent back there to play this season, if the Kraken ever wish, who will avoid burning a year on his contract if he plays no more than nine games.
Wright has a goal and an assist in eight NHL games.
Wright came back from the stint in the AHL with four goals in five games, just in time for his next NHL test – a date with the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, the first team to pass on him in the NHL Draft after months of speculation leading up to the summer as Wright potentially landing there at first overall. In storybook fashion, Wright scored his first NHL goal against the Canadiens in the first period, though the Kraken fell to a 4-2 defeat while Wright gained significant ice time as a center for Yanni Gourde and Oliver Bjorkstrand.
He won the CHL Rookie of the Year award in 2019-20 as the sixth player in Ontario Hockey League history to play with “exceptional status” admission as a 15-year old underage player, an honor previously only granted to the likes of Connor McDavid, John Tavares, and Aaron Ekblad.
He carries significant international experience, captaining Team Canada to the gold medal in the 2021 U18 tournament, where he was second in tourney scoring with 14 points in five games. He was actually slated to play in last year’s World Junior tourney when after two games, the tournament was scuttled due to pandemic complications.
He did not play in the rescheduled event in the summer.