KINGSTON | Shane Wright was the first to strike up the conversation on Wednesday during our 15-minute private chat at Leon's Center, home of the Kingston Frantenacs hockey club of the Ontario Major Junior Hockey League.
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"''Things are going well ? '' he inquired to the representative of the Journal. Is this the testimony that he already sees himself in the uniform of the Canadiens next fall?
The one who is considered the first class of the next repechage session, in Montreal on July 7, does not budge.
"I want to be the first choice this year and I deserve to be," said the 18-year-old athlete. And it's been a while since I think that this first selection belongs to me. »
"I don't feel any pressure to be considered the best player of my generation. I have proven in the past that I have all the skills to be considered the first,” said the 6’1” center and 187 pounds.
After the warm-up period
The Ontario forward, from Burlington, a town three hours drive from Kingston, learned that the Habs had acquired the first place, a few minutes before the start of the third playoff game his team lost Tuesday night against the Battalion of North Bay.
“My head coach [Luca Caputi] called me to his office after the warm-up period to tell me that the CH had won the lottery, to tell Wright. I wanted to know before the match so as not to think about it during the match. »
His first reaction was obviously very favourable.
“Who wouldn’t want to be part of an organization with such an impressive track record and with so much history? »
Wright doesn't have a crystal ball, nor do many of the hockey analysts who have been claiming for a few weeks now that Wright isn't alone in the race. That a certain Logan Cooley could come in particular to scramble the cards.
One fact remains, the final call will fall to the general manager of the Canadiens.
And, in all likelihood and from the information we have obtained over the past few days from influential people in the hockey world, Kent Hughes would not change his mind: Wright would always be at the top of the list of prospects for the Montreal training.
One wonders how the Canadian could miss such an opportunity to select a player who, in the eyes of observers and reputable recruiters, is destined for a bright future in the NHL.
Despite the exceptional player status he obtained at 15 to play in the Ontario Junior Hockey League, Wright may not be of the caliber of John Tavares (2005) Aaron Ekblad (2011) and especially Connor McDavid (2012) who have obtained the same consideration in the past.
Or even Connor Bedard, a Junior League West product that every team will be coveting in a year.
We are not talking about a concession player but, at the risk of repeating ourselves, Wright is the greatest talent of the 2022 vintage.
The perfect scenario
"If the Canadiens make me their first choice, I'll be the happiest," he admits. Montreal is an amazing place to play hockey.
“Actually, that would be the perfect scenario. I have always said that I would like to play at the Bell Center with a Canadiens uniform on my back, not that of the opposing team.
“I would be very flattered to wear the colors of such a great organization that is part of the original six teams. For me, that would be a dream come true. »
Wright says he loves Montreal, which he visited a few years ago for a spring tournament he took part in.
“I love this city for its beauty, its joie de vivre and its public's passion for hockey. And this media pressure that I am told about does not scare me. However, I know that I will have to perform at my fair value. »
Finally, Wright does not budge. His internship in the junior ranks is over. Next fall, he wants to play in the NHL.
And the number 51 he wears with the Frontenacs seems to him already reserved by the Canadian.