Evening Notes: Wright, Okposo, Konecny, Kochetkov

It hasn’t been the start to his career that many thought it would be for Shane Wright. At times thought to be the consensus number one overall pick in the 2022 draft, Wright slipped to number four, selected by the Seattle Kraken. Given Seattle’s continued push to build and add more veteran scoring to the lineup and the state of Wright’s development, a return to the OHL seemed possible, if not likely, at the start of this season. Instead, the Kraken elected to keep Wright around. That decision wasn’t what has raised many eyebrows though, instead Seattle’s choice to scratch Wright in a majority of their games and give him little ice time when they have played him, has drawn some confusion from around the league.

Tonight on Hockey Night in Canada’s 32 Thoughts segment, Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek attempted to shed light on what Seattle may be planning for and what fans might be able to expect going forward. As Marek explains, the team needs to make Wright a healthy scratch five games in a row in order to be able to send him on a 14-day conditioning stint in the AHL (much like the Los Angeles Kings and Brandt Clarke are doing right now). The team tried to do this earlier in the season, but got cut off after four games due to a Jared McCann injury and needed to reset the clock, Marek believes. Tonight would mark Wright’s fifth game in a row scratched after the reset, which could allow for the forward to be sent on a conditioning stint tomorrow with the Coachella Valley Firebirds, Seattle’s AHL affiliate, where he could play in five AHL games before being recalled on December 4th. After that, Seattle has just one game before camp opens up for Team Canada for the World Junior Championships, where Seattle could opt to send Wright. This plan isn’t set in stone or even confirmed by Seattle, but is interesting logic, as Marek suggests.

  • Also from tonight’s 32 Thoughts, Marek touches on the Buffalo Sabres’ captain Kyle Okposo, who is in the final year of a seven-year, $42MM contract he signed during the 2016 offseason. When the team named him captain just before the start of the season, both sides appeared interested in continuing their relationship with one another. Even if true, Marek says that neither side is currently in a hurry to get an extension done. That doesn’t necessarily mean a new deal to keep Okposo in Buffalo won’t happen, but could point to both sides wanting to avoid distraction, especially as the team struggles, losing their eighth game in a row tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs, or to simply give both sides more clarity on Okposo’s specific value. Once a star in the NHL, Okposo’s production dropped off significantly over the life of this contract, but a recent bounce-back has breathed new life into Okposo’s career.
  • Marek also discussed the upper-body injury to the Philadelphia Flyers forward Travis Konecny. It’s believed Konecny ​​suffered the injury Thursday and was ruled out of tonight’s game. Losing their points leader, even for one game, was bad enough for the Flyers, but now according to Marek, Konecny ​​is expected to miss a couple of weeks, if not longer. The Flyers, who have outperformed expectations this season, have done so in large part thanks to Konecny’s 19 points in 17 games.
  • Per ESPN’s Kevin Weekesthe Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov has switched agents. The netminder will now be represented by agent Dan Milstein of Gold Star Hockey. Milstein manages a number of high-profile NHLers, but is perhaps best known for representing a large portion of the NHL’s Russian players, which would now include the exciting Hurricanes prospect. The 23-year-old has played in just five NHL games in his career, nine counting the playoffs, but is in the final year of his entry-level contract.

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