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Wright has right stuff to expedite the Canadiens' rebuilding effort

May 11, 2022, 4:29 PM ET [37 Comments]
Eklund
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One foolproof way to expedite a team's rebuild is to be a bad hockey team at the right time. Not all No. 1 draft picks are created equal. In some years, you get Austin Matthews, Connor McDavid or Sidney Crosby.

Other years you receive Nail Yakupov, Patrik Stefan or Alexandre Daigle.

Most years, teams receive a very desirable impact player in between the aforementioned group of players. It is usually closer to the top of the scale than the bottom. That's where the Montreal Canadiens are after winning the 2022 draft lottery.

They are in line to receive Kingston Frontenacs center Shane Wright who has been the presumptive No. 1 pick for many, many months.

Scouts say he's not a generational player, maybe not even a superstar. But he's a premium prospect, a smart, high-end difference-maker at both ends of the ice. He's a natural leader, a team player and
a high character guy.

The comparison that some scouts use for Wright is Patrice Bergeron.

That's why I am skeptical when I see Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes refusing to commit to drafting Wright. Maybe he is just saying what a general manager, especially a first-year general manager, is supposed to say in this circumstance.

But I can't imagine the Habs bypassing Wright.

Right after the lottery results were announced I saw that TSN draft expert Bob McKenzie, a journalist with impeccable sources, say that he conducted a flash poll of nine NHL scouts. Six said Wright is still their No. 1-ranked player for the 2022 draft, while two favored Slovak winger Juraj Slafkovsky and one thought USA Under-18 center Logan Cooley was the best prospect.


It's Hughes' job to be thorough, and he's going to do that.

But ultimately, he will decide the best decision is the obvious one. They will take the guy who has been No. 1 the longest. It is not surprising that support for Wright at No. 1 has waned. When a player has been considered No. 1 for as long as Wright has been there, scouts begin to see his warts more than his beauty.

It's just human nature.

All the social media chatter about trading the pick, using the pick to try to get Alexis Lafreniere out of the New York Rangers, or trading down or taking Cooley and Slafkovsky is just barroom talk more than meaningful dialogue.

Wright is the most complete center in this draft and nothing expedites a rebuild better than a center who can play in your top six.

A Nick Suzuki-Wright one-two center punch will look good. At 22, Suzuki posted 61 points last season. Suzuki is developing nicely. Wright's potential is probably even greater than Suzuki's potential.

Slafkovsky is a big scoring winger, and scouts say he is not a complete player. He has work to do. Cooley could end up generating as much offense as Wright. They could both end up high impact players. But Wright looks like he will always be the most complete player.

The addition Wright will certainly spruce up Montreal's prospect list. In Wright, Suzuki, Cole Caufield, Alexander Romanov, Kaiden Guhle, Joshua Roy, Justin Barron, Jordan Harris, Tyler Smilanic, etc. the Habs already have some quality building blocks.

Under the new draft lottery rules enacted this year, the worst drafting position the Canadiens could have ended up with was third. They were always going to get either Slafkovsky, Cooley or Wright.

But when your team owns the No. 1 pick the rebuild journey just seems a little less tortuous.
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