Forward Shane Wright cements exceptional season with rookie of the year award

Forward Shane Wright cements exceptional season with rookie of the year award

TORONTO — With his name already being mentioned in the same sentence as NHL stars John Tavares and Connor McDavid, forward Shane Wright could have buckled to the pressure in his first season with the Kingston Frontenacs.

Wright instead found a way to deal with the white noise surrounding him and played beyond his age, and on Thursday was awarded for his exceptional season by being named Ontario Hockey League rookie of the year.

“I just tried not to focus on the outside distractions. I already had high expectations for my play,” said Wright, who played the 2019-20 campaign as the youngest skater in the OHL.

“This was one of my goals coming into the season and I’m very honoured.”

Wright, who is eligible for the 2022 NHL Draft, was named the fifth skater all time to be granted exceptional player status for the OHL by Hockey Canada in the spring of 2019, allowing him to enter the season as a 15-year-old when the Frontenacs selected him No. 1 at the draft.

The native of Burlington, Ont., who turned 16 Jan. 5, joined an elite group to be given early admission to the OHL alongside forwards Tavares and McDavid and defencemen Aaron Ekblad and Sean Day.

He went on to finish the shortened 2019-20 season by leading all first-year skaters with 39 goals and 66 points in 58 games.

At 1.15 points per game, the five-foot-11, 180-pound centre was outpacing a 15-year-old McDavid (1.04), the last player to be granted exceptional-player status in 2012-13, and was just behind Tavares (1.19), the first player to be allowed in the league at that age with the exceptional label in 2005-06 — leading to some in hockey circles to call it “The Tavares Rule” — when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the season.

Early scouting reports suggest that the right-handed centre could be the No. 1 NHL pick in 2022, like Tavares and McDavid before him.

Frontenacs general manager Darren Keily believes Wright will only continue to get better before his name is called by an NHL team.

“Shane has just basically scratched the surface of what his potential is,” Keily said. “That’s what makes his and our future so exciting. We are blessed to have the opportunity to watch him grow as a player.”

With his coaches and teammates highlighting maturity as one of his top qualities — along with a booming shot — Wright was named an alternate captain in his first season with Kingston.

“I feel wherever I go I try to bring leadership qualities, doesn’t matter how old I am,” Wright said. ”I always try to lead by example. I think this season I earned my teammates’ trust as someone they can look to make right decisions.”

Wright didn’t take long to become comfortable in major junior, and also had a successful appearance at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in November, leading all Canadian skaters with four goals and seven points in five games in Medicine Hat, Alta., and Swift Current, Sask.

He had two separate 11-game point streaks with Kingston and exploded for 24 points in 13 games in the month of February to pull away in the rookie scoring race.

Any chance for Wright to pad his statistics was halted when the OHL shut down its season on March 12. Kingston was holding down the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference at the time.

“Coming close at the end of the season there with games being more important I felt I needed to step up my game a little bit and I feel our whole team stepped up their game,” Wright said. “It didn’t end the way we wanted it do but we made the playoffs.

“We’re really excited for what we can do next year.”

Peterborough Petes forward Mason McTavish was second in rookie scoring with 29 goals and 42 points in 57 games.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 14, 2020.

Follow @KyleCicerella

Kyle Cicerella, The Canadian Press

hockey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

There were 410 COVID-19 cases recorded in Alberta Wednesday. (File photo)
Alberta records 410 COVID-19 cases Wednesday

Central zone dropped to 160 active cases

Shaun Isaac, owner of Woodchucker Firewood in Trochu, is awaiting a new shipment during a firewood shortage in the province. All of the wood he has left is being saved for long-time customers who need it to heat their homes. (Contributed photo).
Firewood shortage in central Alberta caused by rising demand, gaps in supply

‘I’ve said “No” to more people than ever’: firewood seller

file photo
Maskwacis RCMP investigate pedestrian fatality

Collision on Highway 2A causing fatality still under investigation.

Shaela Dansereau/ The Pipestone Flyer
City of Wetaskiwin cases rapidly climbing

City of Wetaskiwin reporting 11 active cases of COVID-19

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton, on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta labour board orders health-care staff who walked off the job to go back to work

Finance Minister Travis Toews said in a news release that he was pleased with the labour board’s decision

Husky Energy logo is shown at the company’s annual meeting in Calgary on May 5, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Husky pipeline spills 900,000 litres of produced water in northwestern Alberta

The energy regulator says environmental contractors are at the site

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

Sharon Hickin, general manager of the Days Inn Sylvan Lake and the new Lake House Diner, poses for a photo outside the new restaurant. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News
Pandemic puts extra hurdles in place for new Sylvan Lake businesses

Over the past seven months numerous new businesses have opened in Sylvan Lake, despite the pandemic

Rachel Notley, leader of Alberta’s official Opposition, speaks in Edmonton on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. Notley says the government needs to sharply ramp up the number of contact tracers if it wants to get a handle on the rising number of COVID-19 cases. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Opposition calls for more COVID-19 contact tracers as case numbers rise

Alberta has about 800 tracers, and chief medical health officer Dr. Hinshaw says more are being recruited

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton, on Monday, October 26, 2020. Hospital and health-care workers who staged a one-day illegal walkout returned to work Tuesday while politicians swapped recriminations and accusations in the house over the dispute. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta health staff return to work, surgeries resume after one-day walkout

AHS estimated 157 non-emergency surgeries, most of them in Edmonton, had to be postponed as a result of the walkout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes his way to provide an update on the COVID pandemic in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. Canada has reached a grim milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic, surpassing 10,000 novel coronavirus deaths. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Alberta COVID deaths pushes Canada past milestone of 10,000 deaths

Canada crossed the threshold of 5,000 deaths on May 12, a little over two months after the first was reported

Cases in Ponoka (East Ponoka County) as of Oct. 27. (alberta.ca)
Diagnosed cases of COVID-19 at three Ponoka businesses

Town ‘strongly encouraging’ residents to wear non-medical masks in public

Most Read