It was out of the question for Shane Wright to play his game without knowing which team had won the National League lottery on Tuesday night.

After his team’s pre-game warm-up at Leon’s Center in Kingston, Ont., the 18-year-old headed into the office of his head coach, Luca Caputi. It was there, minutes before playing his team’s third game in the second round of the playoffs, that he learned that the Canadian had earned the first overall pick.

“I was a little anxious, I wanted to know the result of the lottery and who would draft first. […] I wanted to free my mind a bit, just not to think about it too much, ”explained the Kingston Frontenacs forward in an interview on the RDS 5 à 7 program on Wednesday evening.

Reached by phone by La Presse, the general manager of the Frontenacs, Kory Cooper, agreed to talk about his young center. He describes him as a forward who “plays well from 200 feet”, “takes pride in playing well defensively” and has “great hockey IQ in all three zones”.

Cooper also recalls that Wright is used to pressure, he who has been under the “national microscope” since he was 14 years old. In 2019, he was one of the few to be awarded exceptional player status by the Canadian Hockey League (CHL). While all eyes were on him in his first season in Kingston, he had 39 goals and 27 assists for 66 points in 58 games.

“He’s prepared, mature, professional for an 18-year-old player,” the GM hints.

But patience is key.

“The National League is the best league in the world and he’s 18,” he said. He did not play last season due to COVID. People need to temper their expectations. »

La Presse contacted various stakeholders on Wednesday, the day after the NHL lottery. Each of them was full of praise for the one who is tipped to be selected first in July.

“He’s an outstanding individual,” said Louis Robitaille, who was an assistant coach with Team Canada Junior, which Wright was part of last December.

“On the ice, I think he’s a guy who can excel in all areas of the game,” he continued. He’s a guy who has a great shot, who is strong on the pucks in one-on-one battles. He is extremely smart to use his body. He has a good throw, incredible skills, good skating. He is a more than one-dimensional offensive complete player. »

From one speaker to another, the findings are the same: Wright is mature, professional and pays close attention to detail.

Three years ago, in 2019, the Burlington native was selected to take part in the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. Although he was only 15 years old, he was given the role of captain of Team Black Canada. Whoever was the team’s head coach, Jody Hull, remembers it vividly.

“Honestly, he was the most mature in the locker room,” he recalls on the phone. It’s part of who he is as a player. He was a little more mature than his age. He had a good idea of ​​who he was as a player and what he wanted to become. That’s why he’s been ranked number 1 in this draft for so many years. »

Sylvain Favreau was the head coach of Team Canada White for this tournament. His troop faced that of Wright for the first game.

“We took the advantage by surprise in the match. We were leading, but we ended up losing 6-5 in overtime. Shane Wright has three goals,” he recalled.

“He’s a player who has always had a direct impact on the game,” adds Favreau. Often, we have seen from him that it was a natural marker. I saw him from a distance a bit watching the Frontenacs: he has improved a lot in terms of his vision of the game. He is a player who is special. He may not be a generation player like [Connor] McDavid, but I think he’s going to be a number 1 center in the National League. »

According to Louis Robitaille, Wright “possesses exemplary professionalism” and “has the good of the team at heart”.

“He’s not an extremely vocal, talkative guy who’s going to get up in the bedroom and make big motivational speeches,” he explains. Of course, we had him at 17 in a World Junior Championship where there are older guys, but at the same time, his leadership is the way he behaves at all times. days. […] Everything he does, he wants to do it the right way. He’s that kind of player. »

Year after year, we play the game of comparisons with young hopefuls for the National League draft. We like to have an idea of ​​who this or that player will look like. In the case of Shane Wright, one name has often been mentioned here and there: Patrice Bergeron.

On this subject, Louis Robitaille prefers to add a few nuances.

“The more I watch Shane, the more I think he’s more committed offensively than Patrice. Patrice is truly an exceptional player on 200 feet, he is willing to do more than the little things and be a great penalty kill guy. Shane is more attacking, he has the attacking instinct to want to perform. I think time will dictate for its comparable. »

The head coach of the Gatineau Olympiques also recalls that the young man is still “looking for his identity”.

“Yes there are similarities with Patrice’s personality, the way he behaves, but at the same time [Shane] has been evolving for two years and he will continue to do so. It will find its niche,” he argues.

“When McDavid and Crosby were drafted, we weren’t trying to compare them to anybody else. Shane Wright is going to be Shane Wright with his strengths and weaknesses. »


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