Seattle Kraken general manager Ron Francis has shared that, if Shane Wright doesn’t make the NHL roster, he will be eligible for an AHL assignment.
Shane Wright says while it's "great" that he'll be AHL eligible, he's focused on making the Kraken.
— Emerald City Hockey (@EmeraldCityHky) September 18, 2023
CHL players are typically ineligible to play in the AHL until they are 20 years old on or before December 31 of the given season. Shane Wright won’t turn 20 until January 5, missing that cutoff by just five days. Turns out the early playoff loss by the Windsor Spitfires (Wright’s OHL club) hurt his chances at AHL eligibility, leaving Seattle to petition for his graduation. By that same NHL-CHL agreement a player drafted from an CHL team can’t be assigned to an AHL club until they’ve reached 20 years of age or played four years of junior hockey. For a year of junior hockey to count, a player must have played 25 games according to the document.
In 2020-21, the OHL (Wright included) missed the entire season because of COVID-19 cancellations. Last season (2022-23), Wright only played 24 OHL games. Because of the time he spent on the Kraken roster, his late assignment to Windsor, injuries, and the Spitfires early playoff loss, he missed the 25-game threshold for this season to count as one of his four junior campaigns. Technically Wright has only played two seasons of junior hockey, and by the way the rules are written, he shouldn’t be eligible to play in the AHL next season.
Wright was living out of his suitcase all season, starting the year with Seattle, before suffering an injury, then playing a two-week conditioning stint with Coachella Valley.
— Seattle Kraken PR (@SeattleKrakenPR) November 21, 2022
After those eight games, Wright played one more NHL game, vs Montreal, the team he felt had snubbed him by passing over him with the first overall pick. To add fuel to that fire, it was the game in which he scored his first NHL goal.
Following that game, he left for the World Junior Championships in Halifax. Despite having a difficult time offensively, he did captain the team to a gold medal.
Following that achievement, he was returned to the OHL and joined Windsor, where they got swept in the first round of the playoffs despite being overwhelming favorites over the Kitchener Rangers. Then, after that series was done, Wright returned…again….. to the AHL, playing in 24 playoff games with Coachella Valley and scoring 9 points as they fell to the Hershey Bears in the AHL Final.
For anyone thinking that this opens the door to other CHL players under 20 years of age getting exemptions, think again. He had many reasons for not meeting the requirements. Being days off the age cutoff. Being one game off a season total, having a season cancelled by the OHL, and being one of only a handful of junior players granted exceptional status.
Shane Wright is no stranger to making a splash at drafts.
The @KingstonFronts captain became just the fifth player granted exceptional status to enter the 2019 OHL Priority Selection, joining John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid & Sean Day. #NHLDraf pic.twitter.com/PaAUg5koHp
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) July 1, 2022
At the start of September, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman on his 32 Thoughts podcast,said that he’s “under the impression” that Wright’s eligibility for the AHL next season “has been sorted out,” and that the CHL has agreed to allow Wright to play for Coachella Valley assuming he is unable to crack Seattle’s opening-night roster.
Shane Wright recorded two points in eight NHL games last season. He’ll enter the 2023-24 campaign looking to build on those eight games and finally see through his rookie NHL season. If he doesn’t make the club out of camp, this exemption gives Seattle a contingency plan. More importantly, it allows Wright to play at the professional level where he belongs as he has nothing left to learn playing junior hockey.