If you’re not familiar with the name Shane Wright yet, you will be very soon.
Wright is the next big thing in the Ontario Hockey League. A 15-year-old forward with the Don Mills Flyers who has applied to Hockey Canada for exceptional status which would allow him to enter the OHL Priority Selection a year early.
Of course one of the big questions looming is would Wright go to whichever team drafted first overall in the draft?
There’s a strong possibility that team could be the Flint Firebirds and in recent drafts some players and their families have been reluctant to commit to playing in Flint.
It could also be the Kingston Frontenacs.
Some are dubbing it the Wane For Shane countdown to the end of the season.
Would Wright report to whoever drafts him is a question Hockey Canada, and the OHL, would likely want answered as it makes its decision on exceptional status.
But if he didn’t go first overall, for whatever official or unofficial reason, it wouldn’t be a first for an early entry.
Only four players before him have been granted this status in Ontario: John Tavares, Connor McDavid, Aaron Ekblad and Sean Day.
Three of these were the first overall pick in the draft, Day went fourth overall to Mississauga. Day wasn’t even the first defenceman taken, as Peterborough selected Matt Spencer one spot earlier.
All but Day went on to outstanding OHL and NHL careers. Day had an up-and-down junior career and is now playing in the East Coast Hockey League.
Is Wright good enough to play in the NHL at 15? The answer to that seems universally to be yes. Scouts rave about his on-ice vision and ability to control the play. He skates very well and makes everyone around him better.
Let’s not forget that he was born on Jan. 5. Had it been six days earlier he would be in the draft anyway.
He’s already playing up a year on the Don Mills minor midgets and on a team stacked with talent (several are expected to be first round picks in the OHL draft), Wright is seen as the best of the bunch.
In fact Wright is seen as the one that makes several of them better.
Hockey Canada has to answer lots of questions before it okays Wright’s early entry.
At six-feet tall and 180 pounds as a 15 year old, Wright answers one of the concerns Hockey Canada would address in its decision: is he physically capable of playing in the OHL at this age.
There will be a battery of interviews with Wright and those around him - parents, coaches, agent, teachers - to see if he is mentally ready to play a 68-game schedule playing against 20 year olds and if he is mentally ready to live away from home.
How far away from home that is remains to be seen.