Shane Wright is already in rarified air, and it all dates back to something that happened when he was just one year old.
It’s 2005, the main talking point of the hockey world was a young John Tavares. Although the1989 birth year was up for the OHL Priority Selection Draft, John Tavares, who has a late 1990 birthday, was declared eligible for the draft.
Canada’s governing hockey system, Hockey Canada, gave Tavares Exceptional Player Status to allow him to compete in the Canadian Hockey League a year early.
Tavares was such a dominant player in youth hockey that they couldn’t allow him to play another year in his youth league.
Shane Wright exceptional player status
Hockey Canada’s Exceptional Player Status is given to a player deemed exceptional compared to his peers. A player can apply to be given the status and be able to play in the WHL, OHL or QMJHL a year prior to their normal eligibility.
After an extensive review process, Hockey Canada decides what would be best for the player’s development, if the player can uphold the high standards of the status and if the player is mentally and physically ready for junior hockey.
Six players in total have been given exceptional player status John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid, Sean Day, Joe Veleno, and Shane Wright. All apart from Shane Wright went on to be drafted in the NHL, all in the first round and Tavares, Ekblad, and McDavid all went 1st overall.
The latest addition to the list, Shane Wright entered the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) a year early at the age of 15 after showing his dominance in youth hockey.
The first time many hockey fans were exposed to Shane Wright’s talent was on a provincial stage during the OHL Cup, a showcase for the best minor-midget hockey teams from Ontario and the USA — by invitation only. The final game was broadcast in Ontario by Sportsnet.
The Burlington, Ont. native had already racked up 150 points in 72 regular-season games with the Don Mills Flyers in midget, playing with and against peers a full year older than him.
He put up an additional 72 points in 33 games in the GTMMHL. It’s never a good idea to start combining numbers from different leagues, but Wright racked up 97 goals and 125 assists for 222 points in 105 games during the 2018-19 season.
If that isn’t exceptional, I’m not sure what is.
Wright took his game to another level at the OHL Cup, where he topped the tournament leaderboard with eight goals and 18 points in seven games. He led the Flyers to the championship game and put up three points in the final — including the primary assist on Brennan Othmann’s overtime, tournament-clinching goal.
Needless to say that expectations were skyrocketing for Wright, who was granted exceptional status into the OHL ten days before Don Mills won the tournament title.
The rebuilding Kingston Frontenacs selected him first overall in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection. And in the months between then and puck drop on the 2019-20 OHL regular season, excitement and anticipation began to climb among junior hockey fans.
Wright’s numbers alone this year have been impressive he’s played 58 games, 39 goals and 27 assists for 66 points.
Wright’s on-ice success lies in his playmaking ability, his incredible hockey IQ and skating. Wright’s strength is mainly his playmaking abilities, which he derives from his mind for the game. He’s never faced an opponent that he can’t out-think and outplay.
His senses and vision of the ice are unmatched by any player his age. He’s great at finding his teammates and creating space for them. And when he gets stuck in a bad place, his creativity can get him out of any sticky situations. Wright has the game-breaking abilities to control every aspect of what happens on the ice.
Wright is predicted to go first in the 2022 NHL draft and that’s not expected to change.