SAN JOSE SHARKS

Kraken focused on positives, like Shane Wright, with Sharks visiting

Apr 10, 2024, 8:30 PM | Updated: May 24, 2024, 4:41 am

Shane Wright #51 of the Seattle Kraken skates on the ice against the San Jose Sharks in the first p...

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 01: Shane Wright #51 of the Seattle Kraken skates on the ice against the San Jose Sharks in the first period at SAP Center on April 01, 2024 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The Seattle Kraken will wrap up the home portion of their 2023-2024 schedule when they play host to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night.

Despite the disappointment of missing the playoffs after coming within a seventh game of a spot in the Western Conference finals last season, the Kraken in recent days have at least been giving their fans something to look forward to.

Notably, the play of Shane Wright, the No. 4 pick in the 2022 NHL draft. Wright has five points (four goals, one assist) in four games since being recalled from Coachella Valley of the American Hockey League.

Many expected Wright, who was in consideration to be the first overall pick, to step right in last season. But he was still young — he didn’t turn 20 until this past Jan. 4 — and one of his junior seasons was wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic.

He played in eight NHL games last season, with one goal and one assist while averaging just 8:29 of ice time per contest, before being sent back to juniors. He finished the season in the AHL, helping the Firebirds reach the Calder Cup final.

He appeared in three more games for the Kraken in November before being sent back to Coachella Valley for more seasoning, where he flourished with 20-plus goals.

“Everyone wants to spin the clock ahead and fast forward. It doesn’t work that way,” Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said of Wright’s development. “Huge compliments to Shane and the way that he’s continued to elevate his game. He’s obviously done a lot of work (in the minors). … His confidence and his overall play has taken a nice step.”

Wright’s stay with the big club is about to end, as he can only play in two of Seattle’s final five regular-season games without triggering the start of his three-year, entry-level contract.

General manager Ron Francis has said the plan is to send Wright back to the minors for another playoff run so he gains more experience and is ready to compete for an NHL job in the fall.

Considering what he’s done the past few games centering the second line with veterans Jordan Eberle and Jaden Schwartz, he should be close to cementing a spot before training camp begins.

Wright scored on a backhander just 1:08 into a 5-0 victory against visiting Arizona on Tuesday. Philipp Grubauer made a season-high 39 saves in posting the shutout for the Kraken (33-31-13, 79 points), who have won two in a row and five of their past seven games.

“It feels great,” Wright said. “It’s always nice scoring at home and having the home fans cheer when you score.”

It wasn’t the prettiest goal, as it deflected off the glove of Coyotes goaltender Karel Vejmelka and trickled between his pads.

“They all count the same on the scoresheet,” Wright joked. “Lucky bounce, that’s for sure.”

Wright scored his first goal of the season last Monday in a 4-2 win at San Jose.

The Sharks (18-51-9, 45 points), who have the worst record in the league, have lost four of their past five games, including a 3-2 overtime defeat Tuesday against visiting Calgary.

Goals by William Eklund and Jacob MacDonald gave the Sharks a two-goal lead, but they couldn’t hold on despite Mackenzie Blackwood’s 38 saves.

“We just cheated the game,” Sharks coach David Quinn said. “I thought in the second and third (periods) we were wanting it to be easy. We were hoping that things were going to happen instead of approaching the game the honest way and the right way. I thought we were fortunate to get into overtime.”

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–Field Level Media

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