Shane Wright is truly exceptional.
Just the sixth player in Canadian Hockey League history to be granted exceptional player status, Wright is slated to make his Ontario Hockey League debut in 2019-20, suiting up with the Kingston Frontenacs. Meanwhile, a strong showing at this week’s national under-17 development camp could pave the way for the 15-year-old to pull on another iconic jersey before the end of 2019.
The Burlington, Ont., native is one of 112 CHL prospects – 45 from the Ontario Hockey League, 41 from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and 26 from the Western Hockey League – participating in Hockey Canada’s summer U17 development camp, with eyes on earning one of the 66 final roster spots and a chance to suit up for Team Canada Red, White, or Black at the 2019 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, taking place Nov. 2-9 in Medicine Hat, Alta., and Swift Current, Sask. The three final rosters will be announced in late October.
After previously representing his home province of Ontario, most recently at the 2019 Canada Winter Games when he captained his squad to a silver medal finish after putting up 12 points across six appearances, Wright has the opportunity to make his debut under the national spotlight, giving fans from coast to coast a chance to catch a glimpse of hockey’s latest phenomenon.
“I had a little taste of it with Ontario, but with this camp I’ll actually put on that Team Canada jersey, which is pretty cool and pretty special,” Wright told the Canadian Hockey League. “It’s been a dream of mine. It’s such a huge honour representing my country.”
Overall, the camp offers Wright an exciting opportunity to skate alongside new teammates and learn under new coaches.
“I’m just going to go in and be myself. I am not going to change anything about what I did in the past season. That’s why I was invited,” Wright said. “I am going to take in all the information that I can, learn as much as I can, and just enjoy it. It’s going to be a fun camp, it’s going to be a tough camp, but I think it’s going to be a good time.”
Wright, who likens his playing style to a pair of CHL graduates in Mathew Barzal (Seattle Thunderbirds) and Sidney Crosby (Rimouski Oceanic), describes himself as an intelligent player who thinks the game well, while also emphasizing his will to win, a competitive drive that will surely come to the surface should he step onto the ice with Team Canada.
Set to make his debut with the Frontenacs this fall, in a league in where players range from 16 to 21 years old, Wright earned the right to compete at the next level after putting together strong academics coupled with a phenomenal on-ice performance with the minor midget Don Mills Flyers last season in which he recorded 66 goals and 84 assists for 150 points in only 72 appearances.
As one of just six players to earn exceptional status, Wright joins a group of elite company that includes the likes of John Tavares (Oshawa Generals, 2005), Aaron Ekblad (Barrie Colts, 2011), Connor McDavid (Erie Otters, 2012), Sean Day (Mississauga Steelheads, 2013), and Joseph Veleno (Saint John Sea Dogs, 2015), all of whom have since been drafted into the NHL, with the elder three later becoming first-overall selections into the NHL and superstars at hockey’s highest level.
In all, after dominating the minor midget level, Wright is readying to step into the junior ranks in 2019-20, all while preparing for the adjustment that will come with lining up against more experienced players.
“OHL players are the best of the best in Ontario, so I’ll be playing against the top players, but I’ll also be playing with top players, which I feel will help,” Wright detailed. “Obviously I am going to stay focused on the Hockey Canada camp first, but I am also looking forward to the Kingston camp, meeting all my new teammates and skating on the ice at the Leon’s Centre for the first time. It will be a pretty special moment. I can’t wait to get started.”