We finally know where Shane Wright will finish his junior season, as the Kraken top prospect was traded from the Kingston Frontenacs to the Windsor Spitfires in exchange for a slew of draft picks and two roster players.
Wright was assigned back to Kingston by the Seattle Kraken after captaining Team Canada to a gold medal at the World Junior Championship, and rumors immediately circulated he would be traded.
Windsor was ultimately the winner of the Wright sweepstakes and added one of the best players in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) to a roster that already features four other NHL prospects.
There was some initial buzz that the London Knights were close to acquiring Wright. However, it appears London defenseman Oliver Bonk, a ‘B’ rated prospect by NHL Central Scouting, was the sticking point in the deal, at least that’s what London general manager Mark Hunter said.
From a Seattle fan perspective, Windsor is a bit of an underwhelming landing spot for Wright, even though the Spitfires were in a great position — and are now in an even greater position — to win the CHL’s top prize, the Memorial Cup.
London would have been a desirable option to pair Wright up with Kraken prospect Ryan Winterton, who the Knights also traded for recently. North Bay seemingly made a late push, at least per reports, which would have formed a fun trio with Seattle defense prospect Ty Nelson and forward prospect Kyle Jackson.
As far as what this means for Wright, he’s virtually guaranteed top-line minutes and should embark on a long playoff run. Being back in an environment where he has already dominated — the No. 4 overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft posted 94 points in 63 games last season — should imbue Wright with plenty of confidence.
And above anything else, the move provides stability for Wright, who has played for three different teams — Seattle, Coachella Valley, and Team Canada — over the last three months.
Coachella Valley continues streaking
The Firebirds’ winning streak ended at seven games with a 3-2 shootout loss to the Ontario Reign Sunday, but Coachella Valley is still riding a nine-game point streak after a 3-2 shootout win over the San Jose Barracuda Tuesday.
Kole Lind tallied a goal in the latest victory. The 24-year-old forward has 11 points in his last 10 games.
Andrew Poturalski, Ryker Evans named AHL All-Stars
The Firebirds will send two representatives to the American Hockey League’s All-Star Classic in their first season.
Poturalski, a 28-year-old forward, has tallied 35 points in 33 games this season and is currently on a two-year deal with the Kraken. Evans, a second-round draft pick in 2022, has 21 points in 33 games in his first AHL season.
Poturalski and Evans will play for the Pacific Division and will be coached by Calgary head coach Mitch Love, a cult legend with the Everett Silvertips. Former Everett goaltender Dustin Wolf, who plays for Love in Calgary, will be between the pipes for the Pacific.
Jacob Melanson settling in just fine with Sherbrooke
In just his third game with the QMJHL’s Sherbrooke Phoenix since being traded by Acadie-Bathurst, the Kraken forward prospect netted a hat trick, his third of the season, in a 5-2 win over Shawinigan.
In his three games with Sherbrooke, Melanson has five goals and seven points.
Barrett Hall enjoying nice stretch in USHL
The Kraken’s sixth-round pick in 2022 is in a nice groove for the Green Bay Gamblers with seven points in his last five games, including a four-point effort on Dec. 28.
Hall is currently tied for third on the Gamblers with 20 points.
Thunderbirds make splash, Silvertips receive big haul for Zellweger at WHL deadline
The local Western Hockey League teams were uber active at the trade deadline, with the two teams heading in opposite directions.
Seattle acquired Chicago Blackhawks prospect Colton Dach from the Kelowna Rockets, had the Winnipeg Jets reassign Brad Lambert to the T-Birds — who they acquired the rights to in a trade with Saskatoon earlier this year — and obtained the rights to Dylan Guenther, who is currently in the NHL with the Arizona Coyotes, from the Edmonton Oil Kings for a load of conditional draft picks.
After the dust settled, Seattle was left with nine NHL prospects, three players on NHL Central Scouting’s preliminary players to watch list, and the starting goalie for the WJC’s gold-medal-winning Canada, Thomas Milic.
However, the draft pick cupboard is now bare in Seattle. If Guenther ends up reporting to Seattle by the Feb. 10 deadline for NHL teams to send players back to juniors and be eligible for the playoffs (which seems unlikely at this point), the Thunderbirds will have no picks in the first three rounds and just three in the first five rounds of the next four WHL bantam drafts.
Everett is trending in the opposite direction but completed some tidy business of their own by trading Ducks prospect Olen Zellweger and Capitals prospect Ryan Hofer for 10 draft picks, including two first-rounders, and four players.
According to Alan Caldwell, who has tracked WHL draft picks since 2015, the Silvertips have not had multiple first-round draft picks since at least 2015 — as far back as his tracker goes.
High draft picks aren’t the only way to build a successful WHL team — Everett and Seattle are prime examples of that — but it certainly helps.
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