The Seattle Kraken have dipped into their American Hockey League pipeline for the first time this season, recalling forwards Shane Wright and Ryan Winterton from the Coachella Valley Firebirds on Wednesday after the Kraken practiced in Colorado.
The moves were necessitated after the Kraken lost forward Jordan Eberle in practice after he was cut on the leg by Kraken forward Jaden Schwartz, a source confirmed to 93.3 KJR-FM. Eberle’s timetable to recover is uncertain, and Wright’s recall is under emergency conditions, obligated after the Eberle injury.
With Brandon Tanev lost until at least mid-November and Andre Burakovsky likely for another month due to injuries, a banged up Kraken roster will now open slots for Wright and Winterton, either who could play on Thursday night when the Kraken close their two-game trip against the Colorado Avalanche at 6pm PT (93.3 KJR-FM / Kraken Audio Network).
Wright, the youngest player on Coachella Valley’s roster and earning an exemption to play full time this season in the AHL at 19 years old, has started fast with four goals and six points in his first seven games, including an overtime game winner at San Jose on Oct. 29. He made his NHL debut last season at age 18, one of seven from his first round draft class who have broken into the NHL but failed to solidify a permanent lineup spot with a goal and an assist in eight games.
The last time the Kraken saw him in the regular season, he scored his first career NHL goal against the team that passed on him at the draft – the Montreal Canadiens – on Dec. 6. Since then, Wright has earned a gold medal for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships, became a lineup regular for the Firebirds in their playoff run to the Calder Cup Final, and has eight goals in 15 career AHL games.
Wright told 93.3 KJR-FM in training camp his goal this year was to have a more comfortable training camp, and “earn a spot” on the Kraken roster this season through the method of a professional routine.
“You’ll find those skates, competing against those NHL guys, scrimmages in practice against NHL players, getting a taste of that, and a taste of their offseason training was like – that was important for me,” said Wright.
Winterton is looking to make his NHL debut and the 19-year old has three goals and five points in seven games as an AHL rookie, coming off an injury shortened 2022-23 season when he scored 12 goals with 36 points in 34 games for the London Knights, missing the first half of the season to recover from shoulder surgery. He helped the Knights get to two wins of an OHL title with 13 goals and 29 points in 21 postseason games.
That led into what Winterton told 93.3 KJR-FM was a “big summer,” working with Gary Roberts and Kraken staff to add muscle to his 6-foot-2 frame and return to training camp with a trimmed frame and a new outlook on his diet.
“High protein, I need that to get stronger,” Winterton told 93.3 KJR-FM. “And a lot of calories – any way I can get it. Probably not the best to eat a burger, but the odd burger for me is okay to get my weight up.”
The scare with Eberle also comes within the past 11 days with skate cuts becoming a topic of conversation in the hockey world, following the most recent tragedy with former NHL player Adam Johnson, who died when his throat was cut by an opponent’s skate blade during a professional game in England. Several NHL players – including Yanni Gourde on the Kraken side – have made the move to wear or test neck guards. The Pittsburgh Penguins have made the move mandatory for their AHL and ECHL minor league affiliates, while other leagues such as the Western Hockey League have made sweeping changes to implement neck guard protection as mandatory. The other two Canadian Hockey League branches – the Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League – have mandated neck guards since 2008.
The 33-year old Eberle, a reliable playmaker and renowned veteran leader, is in the final year of his five-year, $27.5 million contract and has endured a frustrating start to the season offensively with a goal and three assists in 13 games.