Report: NHL, CHL to make special exception for Shane Wright if he doesn't make Kraken

Last year's fourth overall pick will be allowed to skirt a longstanding NHL-CHL agreement and report to Seattle's AHL affiliate if he's cut out of camp.

Shane Wright doesn’t have to worry about being sent back to junior anymore.

Seattle Kraken GM Ron Francis told the Seattle Times that Wright has been granted an exemption that would bypass the NHL-CHL player transfer agreement and allow for him to play in the AHL if he doesn’t make the team out of training camp.

"I don’t have anything in writing saying I’m good, but it sounds like if we got to that point, it would be OK," Francis said.

The NHL-CHL player transfer agreement states that prospects drafted from either the OHL, WHL or QMJHL cannot be re-assigned to the AHL until they have either turned 20 years old or played in four seasons. Wright, the fourth overall selection in 2022, is five days short of the age cut-off.

Jeff Marek pointed out on Friday’s episode of the 32 Thoughts Podcast that Wright skated in 24 total OHL games last year — which is one game short of the 25-game mark that the CHL constitutes as a played season. Technically, rounding that up would still only give Wright three full junior campaigns to his name, however, it appears the NHL and CHL are counting the 2020-21 COVID season — which the OHL did not participate in — as having been played.

Shane Wright's NHL career has gotten off to a strange start. (Photo by Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images)
Shane Wright's NHL career has gotten off to a strange start. (Photo by Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images)

Last season, Wright became the poster child for the shortcomings of the NHL-CHL player transfer agreement. After initially making the Kraken’s roster out of camp, Wright struggled out of the gate and was a healthy scratch for 11 of Seattle’s first 18 contests — recording just one point in the seven games he played in.

Seattle was only able to re-assign Wright to the AHL after being scratched for five straight games and even then, there was a two-week cap on those assignments. Wright went on to record four points in five AHL games and then briefly re-joined the Kraken for one game before being re-assigned to Canada's world junior squad with his NHL status in limbo.

After the world juniors, Seattle had no choice but to send him to the Windsor Spitfires — where Wright recorded 37 points in 20 games, followed by another three points in eight playoff contests. Once his OHL season wrapped up, Wright re-joined the Coachella Valley Firebirds for their 2023 Calder Cup run, recording nine points in 24 AHL playoff contests.

Wright’s teammate with Team Canada, Brandt Clarke, experienced a similar fate last season. Clarke, who will be 20 when NHL camps break, will also be AHL eligible if he doesn’t make the Los Angeles Kings roster off the hop.