As the Calder Cup Final beckons with Games 1 and 2 this weekend in Hershey, the American Hockey League named the Kraken’s Shane Wright to its 2023-24 AHL Top Prospects Team. The designation is determined by the league’s hockey operations group along with input from the 32 AHL general managers to identify the prospects who project to be the best future NHL players at their positions.

Wright, who has missed the last half dozen games of the playoffs due to injury (but is skating and practicing with the team), put up formidable offensive numbers and graded even higher as a two-way forward who can help disrupt the league’s best forward lines. Seattle’s 2022 first-round draft choice (4th overall) notched 22 goals and 25 assists in 59 games for Coachella Valley this regular season, seventh among AHL rookies. He was fifth overall in scoring on the Firebirds and tops among rookies in points and tied with fellow rookie Ryan Winterton in the highest goals category for first-year CVF players.

Firebirds coach/Kraken coach Dan Bylsma has praised Wright’s work ethic, attention to his defensive assignments and high level of confidence throughout the season. Plus, he produced the sort of offensive numbers and prowess that gets a player named to the AHL Top Prospects team.

“Shane is playing with confidence on a consistent basis,” said Bylsma midseason. “That confidence is manifesting itself in his skating, how he carries the puck through the neutral zone, being a puck distributor by using his feet. Also using his speed to drive defensemen back, then pulling up an seeing a play, making that play with speed and ability.”

This year’s stronger version of Wright was evident during a late-season call-up to the Kraken roster. He notched five points (four goals, assist) in five games during April, highlighted by two goals and an assist to factor in all Kraken goals in a 3-1 win at Anaheim.

Wright has missed the last six games with a lower-body injury. He posted two goals and three assists in the first six games of this deep Firebirds postseason run with the Calder Cup Final starting Friday in Hershey. His official status remains “day-to-day,” but he recently shed the no-contact red practice jersey. Last postseason, Wright played 24 games in a support role, logging two goals and seven assists. 

Others named to the AHL’s Top Prospects team for the 2023-24 season include forwards Logan Stankoven (Dallas) and Juri Kulich (Buffalo), defenseman Brandt Clarke (Los Angeles) and Simon Edvinsson (Detroit) plus goaltender Yaroslav Askarov (Nashville). To qualify for the AHL Top Prospects Team, skaters must have been 22 years old or younger on the first day of the regular season and must have played at least 36 regular-season games in the AHL and no more than 30 regular-season games in the National Hockey League during 2023-24.

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