Welcome to Hockey Wilderness’ coverage of the 2022 NHL Draft. We will not act like experts, nor will we act like we have watched hours of footage of these players. So instead, we have opted to rely on the opinion of people who have, and have compiled plenty of information from different publications regarding these prospects. Note: This is not a ranking, but just going down a list of interesting draft-eligible dudes without any order in mind.
The time of year has finally come, we are talking about teenagers that play hockey and that are available to be selected in the upcoming NHL Draft. And while most years — despite being gifted some generational talent in the last decade — most lists don’t have a consensus pick at the very top. It can go between a defenseman or a forward; or maybe it’s based on potential rather than current tools and ability; or just the gut-feeling some scouts and draft experts have about a certain player. But this year is not one of those years, Shane Wright is at the top and should be the predictable first pick.
Probably the most notable thing about Wright is just how solid he is. Can some scouts really try to nitpick and tear his game apart, seeing him skate one stride a little awkwardly and suddenly he has below-average skating? Definitely. But Wright just feels like that pick teams make to solidify and stabilize the top of any prospect pool, and will be featured on the team for the next decade or so.
There might be nothing flashy with Wright, but as Minnesota Wild fans, we should be familiar with someone that might not make the dazzling plays but simply makes your hockey team better.
What Scouts Are Saying
Wright is a very athletic kid who boasts a wide gait and boxy shoulders that allow him to stay over pucks and play through checks. Those physical tools are complemented by a lethal wrist shot release (which he can get off from several stances and pops off of his blade’s heel or toe) and quick hands in traffic that allow him to take pucks off of the wall from won battles and create scoring chances to the interior. He’s also one of the most diligent three-zone players in the draft, with a powerful stride that helps him push play up ice (though its power is more evident on the length of the sheet than from a standstill into a quick foot race) when he’s done providing support low in his zone or above the puck.
And while his shot is his biggest weapon inside the offensive zone (I actually think he’s owed a few more goals and a shooting percentage that is a few percentile points higher than his current 13%), he has played a much more creative game inside the offensive zone of late. He blends versatile skill with a heady, detailed game that will allow him to drive a line and be relied upon in all situations down the middle at the next level. — Scott Wheeler, The Athletic
Shane Wright is the complete package as an NHL prospect. He is a strong stride skater who possesses deceptive speed and quickness to beat defenders, evade checking or lead a rush,” he said. “He has elite hockey sense with his vision, anticipation and composure to execute quickly on plays and has proven that he can carry the load and lead the way when it’s needed in game situations. — Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting
With an elite two-way game at the Junior level, it comes as no surprise that one of Wright’s biggest strengths is his hockey IQ. He processes the game at an extremely high level, and scouts rave about his off-puck positioning. When you think about players who are often in the right place at the right time, this is one of them.
It is that positioning and processing that facilitates the rest of his game. He’s anticipating plays and thinking two steps ahead, so when he gets the puck, he already knows where he wants to go with it. With nearly an assist per game on the season, he was a major catalyst for the Frontenacs’ offense, even if his goal-scoring wasn’t quite where people would have liked it to be. It is a game of chess for him, and he can see the path to checkmate earlier than most.
He does have a dangerous shot, but it is the way he sets up to shoot is what really makes him a threat. He gets lost in coverage often, and reappears attacking downhill in space. He won’t wow you with his shot like an Auston Matthews, but he knows how to use what he can do to his advantage. — Eyes on the Prize
Shane Wright with the quick hands in-tight for his 20th of the season.— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) February 19, 2022
Make it 23 points in his last 12 games. pic.twitter.com/h0DE7GFBb4
Wright is everything that NHL teams covet in a franchise player down the middle. He is a strong, efficient skater who navigates the ice with a purpose, he is a reliable and proactive defensive presence who can impact the game in all three zones, his vision and ability to quickly identify threats, as well as options, make him a high-end facilitator, and his shot is a weapon that he can use to beat goaltenders in a variety of ways. He has good hands that allow him to execute skilled moves under pressure and consistently come away with contested pucks. His sense of spacing and the routes he takes without the puck force opposing players into difficult decisions, and he is able to quickly turn opposing mistakes into offense for his team. Wright has drawn comparisons to Patrice Bergeron, and rightfully so, but I also see some John Tavares in his game when it comes to his offensive utility.
He may not grow into a perennial Art Ross candidate but he has all the tools to be a highly productive, play-driving pivot at the NHL level, and his overall body of work to this point has earned him top billing for the 2022 NHL Draft. — Nick Richard, Dobber Prospects
Would They Fit In With The Wild?
Yeah, as well as every other hockey team on the planet. Wright has that transmissible skill that coaches would love and teams should find success with him playing in their top-six. Just an easy ride in every single situation that they find themselves in and Wright can be that calming presence. For the Wild, it would be an immediate fit at center and suddenly the forward lines would get all the hype that they deserve around the hockey world. But,
Could The Wild Get Them?
Unfortunately, no. Unless the Wild do something incredibly rare and something that has not happened in decades, by acquiring the top pick from the Montreal Canadiens for a haul, Shane Wright will end up somewhere else.
A Minnesota Relation
Is it too easy to see a two-way center that is good at a whole lot and instantly think of Joel Eriksson Ek? Mikko Koivu could be another option, but the way he’s panning out, Eriksson Ek’s offense has a much higher ceiling than the Minnesota legend and current member of the team’s front office. Maybe we’re doing Wright a disservice, but considering the run of centers that have made their way to Minnesota, it’s the right call. Or maybe Mikael Granlund? This is just for fun.
2022 NHL Draft Board
- Shane Wright — C, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)