The misery tour of this Flyers season is all but over. There are a million areas of opportunity for Chuck Fletcher and the front office to make mistakes, but one of the relatively more idiot -proof decisions should be the Flyers first round pick to be made on Thursday July, 7th. This pick is where we as fans are supposed to trade in our tears for cheers as the Flyers dreadful season could land a pick as high as 1st overall, or at very least a top-10 selection.
There has been a much to be made about this draft not being as strong as other drafts, particularly not as strong as next year’s draft. That being said, it is not as if that there aren’t good players in this draft. It just doesn’t have as high-end of skilled players like Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli, or Matvei Michkov. As long as the Flyers are able to pick within the top-10, they should be able to gain an impact player for the future. How impactful is dependent on many factors, including luck.
Time will tell how successful this selection will be, but you’ve earned to right to feel a sliver of optimism after enduring this season, so we’ll be going through the top 10 I am projecting in the draft. We start with Shane Wright:
A couple things that immediately pop out about Wright’s game are his intelligence, and his release. More on the intelligence and other parts of his game later; for now, let’s focus on the shot. As we just saw, Wright doesn’t do anything spectacular with the puck other than have a hair trigger of a shot. I think in that whole five-minute highlight package he had one backhand and one slap shot, and the rest were all snappers and wristers. Wright has Jeff Carter/Joe Sakic quickness when it comes to pulling the trigger.
He does not require much time or space. He is very efficient, fast, and accurate when he makes a decision with the puck when shooting and passing.
As quick as the shot may be, Wright is not the consensus number-one draft prospect for this reason, because frankly, shooting is only a small part of his game. Wright is thought of so highly because he already plays a 200-foot NHL-style game. When asked, Wright himself says he models his game after Patrice Bergeron. A lot of kids say that, but Wright actually plays like Bergeron and/or like our very own Sean Couturier.
We’re going to go through a smashcut of Shane Wright shifts from a pre-tournament game from this past World Junior Classic. The constant things that you will see are that Wright is always around the puck, he knows how to use his positioning to create space for himself and his teammates, he’s very good at being first to the puck, he has high-end defensive aptitude, and (perhaps my favorite part of his game) he seldom has the puck on his stick for more than two seconds at a time, which again creates space for himself and his teammates. All of these things are what make him a “smart player.”
The Flyers, barring a lottery win, are probably going to end up with a pick in the third-to-sixth range in the first round, so it is not likely that they would be able to select Wright. While he is more than likely going to be some kind of successful NHLer, there are numerous factors that will determine how successful he is and for how long.
It may not be as sexy a comparison, but Shane Wright reminds me of Brendan Morrison. An excellent all-around 200-foot center who will probably slot in as a 2C. However, just like Morrison, if Wright is able to establish chemistry with the right set of wingers than all of the sudden he is an integral factor in a West Coast Express-esque line.
If somehow the Flyers are able to end up with Wright, I could see Wright’s give-and-go, space creating, and shooting ability being a the perfect center for Travis Koenecny and Owen Tippett.