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Kraken F Wright scores in return to NHL action: 'Definitely felt like I belong'

Shane Wright Shane Wright - The Canadian Press

Playing in his first NHL game since November, Shane Wright scored his first goal of the season Monday as the Seattle Kraken defeated the San Jose Sharks 4-2. 

Wright, who was selected fourth overall in the 2022 NHL Draft, has spent the majority of this season with the AHL's Coachella Valley Firebirds.

“Definitely felt comfortable out there,” Wright said after Monday's win. “Definitely felt like I belong out there.

"Obviously, playing with [Jaden Schwartz and Jordan Eberle] too, it’s pretty easy playing with two guys like that. I felt really good today. Obviously, happy with the result as well, and try to keep it going here."

The 20-year-old centre has 20 goals and 43 points in 56 AHL games this season. Wright's goal Monday marked his first NHL point of the season in his fourth game of the campaign.

Wright started last season with the Kraken, posting a goal and an assist in eight games with the team. He had four goals and six points in eight AHL games before spending the remainder of his rookie season with the Ontario Hockey League's Windsor Spitfires, posting 15 goals and 37 points in 20 games to close out the regular season.

He was also loaned to Team Canada for the 2023 World Juniors, averaging a point per game as en route to winning a gold medal. 

Six of the players drafted in the first 10 selections of the 2022 draft have carved out regular NHL playing time so far. Drafted ahead of Wright, Juraj Slafkovsky of the Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils defenceman Simon Nemec and Logan Cooley of the Arizona Coyotes have all moved into full-time NHL roles this season.

Cutter Gauthier, picked at No. 5 after Wright by the Philadelphia Flyers has yet to turn pro and was traded the Anaheim Ducks earlier this year. Sixth-overall pick David Jiricek of the Columbus Blue Jackets, No. 7 pick Kevin Korchinski of the Chicago Blackhawks and Ducks defenceman Pavel Mintyukov, taken 10th overall, have also seen regular playing time this time, while eighth-overall pick Marco Kasper of the Detroit Red Wings and ninth-overall pick Matthew Savoie of the Buffalo Sabres have each appeared in one career NHL game.