The NHL Draft is one of the most monumental moments during the off-season. It’s the moment where dreams come true for young players, and the league's teams build upon their pools of young talent. Each year, all eyes are on the top three prospects drafted in the first round, with the hockey world speculating for weeks who the lucky three might be. This year was no different.
Being drafted is an incredible honor, especially for those who are selected in the first round. Even more impressive, being in the top ten. For months hockey analysts expected Shane Wright, the Ontario-born star center for the Ontario Hockey League’s Kingston Frontenac, to be selected first overall by the Montreal Canadiens. Instead, Montreal selected Juraj Slafkovsky, an 18 year old forward from Slovakia. Within the weeks leading up to the draft, Slafkovsky quickly climbed up draft rankings, going neck and neck with Wright for the first pick. Because Wright and Slafkovsky were both almost equally expected to be the first pick of the night, many assumed that the other prospect that wasn’t first overall would go second. Well, things didn't work out that way.
The second pick of the night was selected by the New Jersey Devils, who selected another Slovak–Simon Nemec. It is important to note that this is the first time in draft history that two Slovakian born players were a part of the top three drafted prospects, in addition to being only the second time in draft history in which the two top picks had the same birth country outside of North America. The Arizona Coyotes were responsible for the third pick, selecting University of Minnesota's Logan Cooley, arguably one of the highest ranking centers available this year.
Shockingly, Wright was drafted fourth by the Seattle Kraken, three places down from where he was predicted to be selected. Seattle felt lucky to acquire Wright, especially when they thought he would not be an option by the time they were on the clock. The Kraken’s official Twitter account said that they were “Wright. On. The. Money.”
In post-draft interviews, Wright commented, “That's just how it goes sometimes. I think that, you know, teams maybe [they] felt another player was better suited for their team and they want that choice. Can't hold anything against them. They made their decision, but I couldn't be any happier being a Seattle Kraken.”
Seattle was founded as a team in 2018, so they’re still fairly new in the League. They have a lot of potential, and Wright could end up being a key player trying to win their first Stanley Cup.
The online hockey community instantly buzzed about the moment before Wright slipped the Seattle jersey on. He appeared to be glaring at Montreal’s Draft table, developing his own “villain origin story.” Wright has repeatedly denied that he glared at Montreal’s table, but many hockey fans still believe he was expressing his frustration with the team. He did admit to having “a chip on [his] shoulder” in regard to the three teams that passed him up but is highly motivated to be successful with the Kraken.
Training camps for the NHL begin this week, which means fans get to see their favorite team’s detract picks in action right away. It’s exciting to look forward to the future, and I cannot wait to see who becomes the next big name in the league. Did teams make the right selections? Who will successfully make it in the NHL? Only time will tell.
**Special shout-out to Danny Zhilkin for being drafted #77 by the Winnipeg Jets. Women in hockey are so excited to support you and Lauren on this incredible journey! We’ll be cheering you on every step of the way and cannot wait to rep your name on the back of Jets apparel.