An NHL executive source, who three weeks ago told Montreal Hockey Now that he believed the Montreal Canadiens were leaning towards drafting Shane Wright with the first overall pick, has not been swayed otherwise with the 2022 NHL Entry Draft set to kick off in Montreal two weeks from Thursday.
“From what I keep hearing, Wright’s the guy still,” the source told Montreal Hockey Now recently.
Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes represented one of the best NHL centers over the last 20 years and maybe in the history of the NHL in Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron. Hughes is trying to build a contender again and most NHL scouts and insiders will all agree that you build up the middle. So as another NHL source opined to Montreal Hockey Now three weeks ago:
“The Canadiens have [Nick] Suzuki but then what on the NHL roster up the middle? They’ve got some good kids coming but then you add Wright? Now you’re tight up the middle as those kids come right?”
Montreal Canadiens centre prospect Riley Kidney is coming off a 100-point season and had two goals and six assists in the QMJHL playoffs thus far.
“Forget what they could bring in via trade or free agency, look at the potential of that 1-2-3 up the middle with Suzuki, Wright and Kidney” the latter source said.
With an impressive performance at the 2022 IIHF World Championships by Juraj Slafkovsky (3g, 6a), in eight games, buzz immediately generated and hasn’t stopped that the Montreal Canadiens may be lured into drafting the 18-year-old Slovakian winger. According to another NHL source Saturday evening, that’s simply not the case.
“Montreal wants to build up the middle; why would they not take Shane Wright?” said the source. “Look, has Slafkovsky not turned some heads at the Worlds? Of course he has. Let’s think about this though. Who is the guy that’s been more consistent? Who do you want if you’re the Habs? I build up the middle. …you?”
Another word that has come up from various NHL sources when describing Wright has been resilience, and coincidentally in a recent interview after the NHL Combine, Montreal Canadiens amateur scout Ben Shutron did a Q and A with Canadiens fans and was about what defines resilience to him and the Montreal Canadiens amateur scouting staff?
“We’re looking for those transferable skills that will help get them to the NHL, and stay in the NHL, and ultimately help the Montreal Canadiens win the Stanley Cup. […] We’re also looking for exceptional character traits; the compete, the hockey sense, and the character that will help them persevere and overcome adversity,” Shutron said.
“There are a number of ways you can evaluate resilience. I love seeing players deal with adverse situations in difficult circumstances. For myself as a scout, and all throughout the season, I might target specific games against specific opponents where I know it’s going to be challenging for a prospect or a player. They might match up against a difficult defenseman or a great forward who plays a 200-foot game, who’s really smart and competes hard. Ultimately, you want to see if that prospect can push through those adverse circumstances.”
Despite missing a whole season due to COVID canceling the 2020-21 season, Wright still had 32 goals and 62 assists in 63 games this past season and followed that up with three goals and 11 assists in 11 OHL Playoff games. One would imagine that was viewed as ‘resilience’ by the Canadiens and other NHL teams scouting him.