The hockey gods weaved their magic on May 10th to help the Habs’ draft lottery outcome and granted them the first overall pick in this year’s draft. When the evening of July 7th arrives and the Habs brain trust walks up to the podium to announce their selection, we will know for certain who they have chosen. At HabsWorld we enjoy analyzing the prospects to provide some insight into who the Canadiens may choose. The first player we looked at is centre Shane Wright.
Weight: 187 lbs
CSB (North America): 1
Elite Prospects: 1
McKeen’s Hockey: 1
Hockey Prospectus: 1
Future Considerations: 1
The Hockey News: 1
TSN (Button): 1
TSN (McKenzie): 1
The Athletic (Pronman): 1
Wright was an outstanding scorer in the GTHL minor hockey ranks where he typically produced at a rate of two points per game or more. He was granted Exceptional Player status to join the Ontario Hockey League as a fifteen-year-old to start the 2019-20 season. Wright is only the sixth player in OHL history to be granted that status. During his rookie season, he scored a little over a point a game and earned the OHL’s rookie of the year award. For the 2021-22 season, Wright bumped up his offensive numbers to nearly a point and a half rate per game.
Shane plays a very cerebral style of game, always anticipating the play and putting himself into the correct position nearly every time. His attention to detail on defence helped him to develop his two-way game, something he focused more on this season. His passing, puck handling and playmaking skills are all very high. Wright also possesses an athletic build which will help him adapt against pro players as he physically matures further.
Wright possesses a deadly wrist shot and snapshot. He is also a strong skater with good agility, and a change of pace to slow down the game. His acceleration could use a little improvement, but the same was said about John Tavares in his draft season. The comparison to Tavares and Wright is a strong one, as he was also given the OHL Exceptional Player status. During Tavares’ draft year, he was the top-rated player by the NHL’s Central Scouting group, and his acceleration was also questioned by some scouts. But in that regard, he was also compared to Nathan Mackinnon, who is one of the elite skaters in the NHL. In my opinion, his skating and acceleration rank very good, but not elite. When it comes to comparing Wright to NHL players, I prefer to use Mika Zibanejad since his style is very similar and it could be the best ceiling Shane will attain in the NHL.
Shane has shown strong leadership skills. He is currently Kingston’s captain and has also worn the C for Canada’s under 17 and under 18 teams. In both of those tournaments, he also led Team Canada in scoring. During interviews with Wright, he comes across as confident, and very coachable, allowing him to be utilized in different scenarios. He made comments during interviews that indicate he watches pro players often, which makes me believe he has that “student of the game” hockey mind. In every draft, the top-rated prospect is under a more intense microscope than the rest of the pack; he shows no obvious weakness when it comes to his skill set or other intangibles.
It’s arguable that Wright could use another full season of play in the OHL since he did not play at all in the 2020-21 season due to the pandemic-driven shutdown of the league. It was a span of nearly eighteen months of lost development for Shane, and some have debated that was the primary reason for his poor start to the first half of this season. Normally, the first overall draft pick plays in the NHL right away but I am not against bucking that trend if the Canadiens management decides he should play another season of junior hockey. Too many other Habs first-round picks have been rushed to the NHL, but recent Canadiens players like Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki have not arrived in the pros until they were twenty years old. As much as Montreal needs to shore up the centre position, a player like Shane Wright should not be rushed to the pros. To me, unless Wright is scoring at least a point per game during the final exhibition games when he’s mainly facing NHL players, I would not deem him ready to start his pro career in the fall of 2022. If Montreal’s management agrees, then I predict Wright will be better suited to begin that journey in the fall of 2023.