PROSPECTS | Shane Wright, Kingston Frontenacs, OHL, CHL, Rookie of the Year, Award, NHL, Entry Draft, Zachary Bolduc, Rimouski Oceanic, QMJHL, Dylan Guenther, Edmonton Oil Kings, WHL
ROCKET SPORTS MEDIA — Over the coming weeks, The Canadian Hockey League will be announcing the recipients of their 10 major awards for the 2019-2020 season. The CHL is split into three leagues across Canada and each of those leagues will have a nominee represented.
This is the fourth installment in a series that will provide a summary of each of the respective nominee’s seasons, along with a prediction of who I think deserves to win the award, and of course, the actual winner as announced by the CHL. Enjoy!
Up next, The CHL Rookie of the Year Award presented by Wawanesa Insurance.
WHL: Dylan Guenther, Edmonton Oil Kings
OHL: Shane Wright, Kingston Frontenacs
QMJHL: Zachary Bolduc, Rimouski Oceanic
The Edmonton Oil Kings, led by WHL Coach of the Year winner Brad Lauer, transitioned from a veteran led roster featuring Blue Jackets 2018 seventh round pick Trey Fix-Wolansky, in 2018-2019 to a young, up and coming squad in 2019-2020, led by 2020 projected first rounder, Jake Neighbours. In Junior Hockey, a transition like this usually works in cycles, accounting for a year or two of mediocrity in between championship runs.
The 2019-2002 Central Division Champion Oil Kings, threw that model completely out the window. The team managed to put up back-to-back 42-win campaigns all while transitioning the core of the group. An integral part of this success was 2021 draft eligible, and the WHL’s representative for CHL Rookie the Year, Dylan Guenther. The six-foot, left-winger put up over a point-per-game in the pandemic shortened 2019-2020 season. He produced 59 points on 26 goals, 33 assists in 58 games in his rookie season.
After a brief eight game stint with the 2018-2019 Oil Kings, the 2018 first overall WHL Bantam Draft pick put up 58 points with 32 goals, 26 assists in 28 games for the Northern Alberta X-treme Prep team of the CSSHL. The 17-year-old Edmonton native, is best described by scouts as a good blend of size, speed and skill. He has offensive swagger to his game, with a lethal shot and good play-making ability. He reminds me an awful lot of Tyler Seguin.
At the same age, Seguin, the former second overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, put up 67 points including 21 goals, 46 assists on what was then considered a young, up-and-coming team in the Plymouth Whalers. The two play identical styles and played similar roles on their respective teams, both finishing second in team scoring in their rookie seasons.
On March 8, 2019, the CHL granted exceptional status to the sixth player in its history. This allows a player to enter his respective league a year prior to his eligibility. It is granted to a player whose qualities, not only on the ice, but also as a person, deem the player deserving of the rare privilege of participating in the CHL at an early age.
On that day, Shane Wright entered the OHL. He was later selected by the Kingston Frontenacs first overall in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection. The exceptional status comes with significant pressure. Wright will forever be compared to his peers on this list, such as John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, and most recently, Connor McDavid.
That pressure however, did not affect the 6-foot phenom, as he lived up to those lofty expectations with a 66-point campaign with 39 goals, 27 assists. He was so instrumental on a young Frontenacs squad, that he was awarded the assistant captaincy, making the right-shot center the youngest player in CHL history to be given that honor at 16 years old.
Wright’s offensive prowess includes a lethally accurate wrist shot, effective passing abilities and exceptional acceleration. The ladder, is a big reason why his easy comparison is to Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid. The blend of carrying the puck at high speeds, paired with pinpoint edge work makes it easy to see why that is the case.
The Oakville native also scored at a higher point-per-game pace of 1.14, compared to McDavid`s 1.05 in their respective underage rookie seasons. Shane Wright is not eligible for the NHL Entry Draft until 2022, but he is already projected to be the top pick.
The QMJHL’s CHL Rookie of the Year nominee Zachary Bolduc, took a bit more of an unconventional route to the CHL. The 6-foot center of the Rimouski Oceanic had the intention of going the NCAA route, and therefore dropped to the 14th spot in the 2019 QMJHL Entry Draft. After playing just two games for the Sioux City Musketeers of the USHL, he changed his mind and reported to Rimouski.
It was a curious decision, considering the team was already loaded at the center position, led by the Boston Bruins 2017 sixth Round pick, Cedric Pare. The decision paid off in spades, as the Trois-Rivieres native put up 30 goals, 22 assists for 52 points in the 55-game pandemic shortened 2019-2020 season.
The 17-year-old is best described by scouts as an aggressive puck-pursuer, with a whippy, yet accurate shot and underrated playmaking abilities. He is not afraid to go to the dirty areas to get the puck and has the ability to score from all areas of the offensive zone.
Bolduc will have a real opportunity to shine in 2020-2021 season, where he will likely find himself on the top line on an Oceanic team that could be losing the projected consensus 2020 first overall pick in Alexis Lafreniere, along with Cedric Pare and overager Nicolas Guay. With his nomination, Zachary will try to become the sixth player in nine years to win the award hailing from the QMJHL. That group includes the Winnipeg Jets Nicolas Ehlers (2013-2014), the New Jersey Devils Nico Hischer (2016-2017) and his teammate Alexis Lafreniere (2017-2018).
All three nominees played vastly different roles on their respective teams. Dylan Guenther turned into an all situation player on a young, yet surprisingly lethal at transitioning Oil Kings team.
Zachary Bolduc surprised many by making a last minute appearance on a veteran and loaded Oceanic team. He played a secondary role to perfection and is ready to take on a key role on the 2020-2021 squad.
But for me, this year’s winner is Shane Wright. The leadership role he was given, at the tender age of 16 in a league that’s dominated by 18-19 year olds, proves to me how integral he was to the Frontenacs young core. His emergence in the second half of the pandemic shortened 2019-2020 season, changed how the team attacked. He, along with 2021 NHL draft eligible Zayde Wisdom and 2020 NHL draft eligible Martin Chromiak will play in integral part in Kingston’s inevitable deep playoff runs the next year or two.
CHL Rookie of the Year Award
The 2019-20 recipient of the CHL’s Rookie of the Year Award is forward Shane Wright, of the Kingston Frontenacs.
“Wawanesa Insurance is proud to present the 2019-20 CHL Rookie of the Year Award to Frontenacs forward Shane Wright,” said Selena Hinds, Vice President of Brand, Communications and Community for Wawanesa Insurance. “We’re all missing hockey right now, but players like Shane remind us the future is bright, and we’re looking forward to cheering Shane on next season.”
The 16-year-old from Burlington, Ontario, was selected first overall by the Frontenacs in the 2019 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection. His 39 goals set a franchise rookie record surpassing the mark of 36 set by Bernie Nicholls back in 1979-80, while his 66 points equal what past exceptional status star forward Connor McDavid of the Erie Otters produced in 63 games back in 2012-13. In total, Wright put together 17 multi-point performances including his first career hat-trick and four-point effort on February 29 against the Flint Firebirds, and tied for the CHL lead in scoring three overtime winners. He will be a top prospect for the 2022 NHL Draft.
“Thank you for selecting me as the CHL Rookie of the Year,” Wright said. “It’s a huge honour for me and I know both Dylan (Guenther) and Zachary (Bolduc) are both more than deserving of being granted this award and I’m just truly honoured to be selected for it. I want to thank my parents for always supporting me. The amount they sacrificed for me throughout my entire career to get to this point, all the love they gave as well, they turned me into the person I am today. I’d like to thank my coaching staff for always pushing me, always trying to make me better, and learning so much from them with their advice. And finally, I’d like to thank my teammates. Coming to the rink every day is the best time of the world being with those guys and I wouldn’t be able to get this award without them.”
Award winners are selected by NHL Central Scouting in association with the CHL.
Other notable award’s that were also announced this week include:
CHL Humanitarian of the Year
The award highlights the player who is judged to have made the most notable contribution to his community in a humanitarian sense.
The nominees were:
WHL: Riley Fiddler-Schultz, Calgary Hitmen
OHL: Jacob Ingham, Kitchener Rangers
QMJHL: Xavier Simoneau, Drummondville Voltigeurs
The winner of the 2019-2020 CHL Humanitarian of the Year-presented by Kia is from the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL, Xavier Simoneau. The 2020 NHL Entry Draft eligible prospect scored 28 goals, 61 assists for 89 points on the ice, while creating an outreach program rewarding kids for doing good deeds called “Les Amis a Simy” (Simy`s Friends Project). Congrats to Xavier on this honor.
CHL Scholastic Player of the Year
This award highlights the player who best combines success on the ice with success in school.
The nominees were:
WHL: Dylan Garand, Kamloops Blazers
OHL: Cole Perfetti, Saginaw Spirit
QMJHL: Rafael Harvey-Pinard, Chicoutimi Sagueneens
The winner of the 2019-2020 CHL Scholastic Player of the Year-presented by CIBC is from the Saginaw Spirit of the OHL, Cole Perfetti. The 2020 NHL Entry Draft eligible prospect set the Spirit single season record with 111 points, while maintaining an overall academic average of 93 percent. Congrats to Cole on this honor.
CHL Sportsman of the Year
The award highlights the player that exemplifies the most sportsmanship on and off the ice.
The nominees were:
WHL: Seth Jarvis, Portland Winterhawks
OHL: Nick Robertson, Peterborough Petes
QMJHL: Jakob Pelletier, Moncton Wildcats
The winner of the 2019-2020 CHL Sportsman of the Year-presented by Cavendish Farms is from the Peterborough Petes of the OHL, Nick Robertson. The 2019 2nd round draft pick of the Maple Leafs put up 55 goals, 31 assists for 86 points while only committing 40 minutes in penalties. Congrats to Nick on this honor.
Stay tuned for the next installment featuring the CHL Goaltender of the Year Award presented by Vaughn. The nominees are Dustin Wolf (Everett Silvertips), Nico Daws (Guelph Storm), and Kevin Mandolese (Cape Breton Eagles).
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Cheers for now, Mike