By Bob Trask – Early in the season, when it became apparent that the Canadiens weren’t going to be competitive, the drums began beating for a tank and a shot at the number one overall pick. And at the start of the season, the consensus pick was Shane Wright. Twitter was rife with remarks like “Pain for Shane” and momentum in favour of him as the target grew.
Those pining for the number one pick got their wish and the Habs not only finished dead last but they won draft lottery. In the curious world of hockey and 18 year old players, however, things can change rapidly and dramatically.
Wright stumbled out of the gate and didn’t pick up his pace until the season was well underway. A missed season due to Covid restrictions was claimed to be the culprit for his slow start. Then he went on a tear and looked like that number one pick all over again.
When the playoffs rolled around, Wright and the Kingston Frontenacs eliminated a sub-500 team, the Oshawa Generals, in six games. In the next round, they were then eliminated themselves by the Windsor Spitfires in five games. During the regular season, Windsor and Kingston had similar records but the Spitfires outscored the Frontenacs by seven goals in the five game series. Each team had an empty net goal. It should have been a close series but it wasn’t.
Wright’s performance during these playoffs resulted in 3 goals and 11 assists in 11 games. It is a decent pace of production but he didn’t put the team on his back and carry them to victory either. A stronger playoff performance would have cemented his status as the first overall pick in the entry draft but that did not happen.
Today, we are left wondering what the Habs management team is really thinking. Twitter has become toxic on this mater with insults and accusations flying from both sides, and it seems to be getting worse as time goes by. It might be a wise idea not to engage on the Wright controversy for a while.
While we wonder, Hughes and Gorton are in Finland taking on the World Championships. They are undoubtedly exploring all their options, continuing to scout players who are still playing, going over scouting reports of those that aren’t and trying to get a feel for the situation.
Were there unknown circumstances that affected Wright’s play or was he simply going through a slump that happens to all hockey players, including 18 year old consensus number one picks? It may come down to pre-draft interviews with the players, or the Canadiens may have already made their decision.
Mark July 7th on your calendar. Your questions will be answered then.