After playing seven games and being healthy scratched for 11 games– including the last five straight games, Shane Wright has been moved to the AHL for a conditioning stint with the Coachella Valley Setlist– errr– Firebirds. For me, this is reminding me of something that happened back in 2008.
Back when Steven Stamkos entered the league, then Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Barry Melrose didn’t play the former 1st overall pick because he felt Stamkos wasn’t ready for the NHL yet. This is after the Lightning had a “Seen Stamkos” campaign hyping up their young star in the making. In Melrose’s disastrous 16 games (5-7-4) in Tampa, he played Stamkos in all those games with Stamkos playing under 10 minutes five times in that stretch and with two goals and two assists.
It seems like Hakstol is feeling the same way about Wright that Melrose felt about Stamkos. The difference is that the Kraken have a decidedly better record (10-5-3) than what the Lightning did at the time, so not playing Wright seems like the correct decision since his absence isn’t something that has seemed to be a big factor. NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman said on the Jeff Marek Show that “Unless Hakstol was forced to play Wright more, he isn’t going to play very much in Seattle” and a move to the OHL could be looming.
Granted, this decision probably won’t sit well with Kraken fans, as they feel Wright is a big part of the team going forward. Hard to argue when you use the fifth overall pick to snag what many people believed would be the player going first overall in the draft. But, again, the record indicates he’s not needed as much because he’s direct involvement isn’t affecting too much of the result.
My biggest issue is what’s going to happen if he’s sent to the OHL and loses interest in that because he feels he’s outgrown it?? He was brought into the league with exceptional status granted. Even missing a year for COVID, he racked up 94 points in 63 games last season and his rookie OHL year he had 66 points in 58 games. There’s not much more for him to accomplish out there in major junior; unless it’s winning an OHL title and Memorial Cup. It’s hard to think that he needs to be there for improvement and he could even get disenchanted with the notion and regress a bit while then feeling vindictive against the Kraken for sending him down there.
Some people claim he might have an attitude problem due to him excelling at every level and thinking he’s owed things. Some people claim he’s just not NHL ready with his play and he needs to get stronger and have more ice time elsewhere before making the jump. It’s kind of a shame that the CHL has a deal with the NHL for players with junior eligibility, because Wright could very well excel in that climate against other prospects while also not taking two steps backwards by going back to juniors.
At the end of the day, Kraken fans are left wondering if they’ll ever see Shane at all the rest of the season.