NHL experts: What landing Shane Wright means for Seattle Kraken
The Seattle Kraken made a big splash Thursday with their No. 4 overall selection of center Shane Wright, who has been on the NHL radar for years and was a longtime favorite to go No. 1 overall in the 2022 NHL Draft.
Instead of going first overall to the Montreal Canadiens – or second to the New Jersey Devils or third to the Arizona Coyotes – the talented center fell to fourth overall, where the NHL’s newest franchise scooped him up.
So what exactly are the Seattle Kraken getting with Wright? How soon could we see him playing at the NHL level? And how good could a duo of Wright and Matty Beniers be?
We had plenty of great NHL Draft coverage on Seattle Sports 710 AM Friday to help answer those questions, with senior ESPN NHL writer Greg Wyshynski joining The Mike Salk Show and ESPN commentator John Buccigross, who calls NHL games for the network, joining Bump and Stacy.
Here’s what those two had to say about the newest member of the Seattle Kraken.
First, how soon could Wright suit up in a regular season game? Wyshynski said Wright feels he can play from Day 1.
“He thinks he’s NHL-ready. I mean, he obviously believes that there are some facets to this game that still need refinement but he fully expects to play in the league next year,” Wyshynski said. “And it’s going to be totally up to the Kraken as to whether or not they feel the same way.”
Wyshynski said that the Kraken may decide the 18-year-old Wright needs “a bit more seasoning” and could choose not to “burn a year” of his rookie contract. That being said, he doesn’t think Seattle drafted Wright with the thought that he won’t contribute in 2022-23.
“I tend to believe if you’re taking Shane Wright, you’re taking a player that you believe is going to be on your roster next season, but that’s really kind of climbing into the mind of (general manager) Ron Francis and trying to figure out what their projection is for next season,” Wyshynski said.
While Wright for many years was thought to be the next big thing in the NHL, Wyshynski said the center won’t “blow you away with his skillset” but should be a very good NHL player.
“I think he’s very adaptable to what’s happening in the league now. Defensive competence is his forte and his offense comes from his defense. It’s kind of where the league is right now,” he said. ” … This guy isn’t (Oilers star) Connor McDavid, he’s not (Maple Leafs star) Auston Matthews. It’s the reason why people approached this draft with some hesitation thinking it was going to be kind of a weak class. I disagree, I think it’s kind of deep, but it certainly didn’t have that, like, transformative player at the top. So Wright is going to come in and he’s going to be confident. He’s not going to light the world on fire. He’s going to play really, really well and be solid in all facets of the game. He has a very high hockey IQ.”
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) July 3, 2022
The Kraken drafted a talented center second overall a year ago in Beniers, who wound up playing in the final 10 games of the season after ending his college career at Michigan, scoring nine points for Seattle. How good could a pairing of Beniers and Wright be for the Kraken?
“What the Kraken have now is they’ve got two pieces of valuable DNA,” Wyshynski said. “Matty Beniers is going to be great. I think he’s a top-line player in this league. If Shane Wright isn’t a top-line player in this league – and I’ve talked to a number of scouts that say (Wright reminds them) of a poor man’s Patrice Bergeron (the Boston Bruins captain), and I had one tell me the other day (Wright reminds them) of David Krejci, who was a great second line center for the Bruins – he doesn’t have to be ‘the’ guy in Seattle if you have Beniers there. I think Beniers is going to pan out to be the better player. But at the end of the day, a 1-2 punch up the middle like that? That is a strong foundational pair to build around if you’re the Kraken.”
Listen to Wyshynski’s full conversation with Salk at this link or in the player below.
Wright was always going to go early in this draft, but was it really a surprise that he slid to fourth overall? Buccigross doesn’t think so.
“If he didn’t go (first overall), I did think he’d start to slip because the Devils didn’t need a center. And there was some talk maybe he’d end up at six and maybe the Kraken would go with a big, right-handed defenseman,” Buccigross said.
But Wright being available at fourth overall was too good of an opportunity for Ron Francis and Co.
“I think especially after you take Matty Beniers last year and now this year to go back-to-back centers and start to really build your team from there, man, you can’t pass that up,” Buccigross said. “These guys could be a couple of 10-year veterans or 12-year veterans you can really build your team around, so that was obviously a great day for the Kraken when that happened.”
Having two young, talented centers like Beniers and Wright sets the Kraken up very well for the future, Buccigross stressed.
“These are 18-year-old kids, 19-year-old kids, and you don’t know how it’s going to end up in the end, but man, to get two centers – centers are so valuable, they’re hard to find and they’re the most important position on the team after goaltender – and to get two back-to-back like this could really set the Kraken up,” he said.
So what kind of player can Wright become?
“When he was a 15 or 16 year old, (scouts) thought he might be the next Sidney Crosby or Connor McDavid. Then as he didn’t quite reach that trajectory, you wonder, did he peak early? Is he going to get better? Is this the best he is?” Buccigross said. “And he’s not going to be that generational Art Ross Trophy, 60-goal guy, but could he end up being probably a good 10- or 12- or 15-year pro? Yeah. And if he’s a good, awesome No. 2 center on a really good team, then that’s pretty good.”
Listen to Buccigross’ full interview with Bump and Stacy at this link or in the player below.