The building is also the practice site for the Canadiens, and Wright knows it could soon become a more permanent home for him.
“That definitely crosses your mind,” the 18-year-old said. “The position that I’m in right now and what’s going to happen tomorrow, I think that’s definitely something that crossed my mind. It’s something that I pictured in my mind for sure. It’s obviously a beautiful facility. Definitely fun to get a chance to be here.” .
Wright, No. 1 in the final NHL Central Scouting rankings of North American skaters for the 2022 NHL Upper Deck Draft, is among the favorites to be selected by the Canadiens with the first pick on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN, ESPN+, SN, TVAS).
Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes said Monday that players under consideration to go No. 1 they are Wright, center for Kingston of the Ontario Hockey League; left wing Juraj Slafkovsky of TPS in Liiga, Finland’s top professional league; and the Logan Cooley center of the USA National Hockey Team Development Program.
Those three players, along with NTDP left wing Cutter Gauthier and Winnipeg Western Hockey League centers Matthew Savoie and Conor Geekie, helped run the clinic.
“Montreal is where I’d like to go, that’s where I want to be,” said Wright, who was eighth in the OHL with 94 points (32 goals, 62 assists) in 63 games this season. “Just walking around town yesterday, it’s a beautiful city, amazing city, here at the facility as well. I really love what they’re doing… I want to be a part of this. I want to be a part of this organization. I want to be a part of the build.” something special here and I think I can help contribute to that.
Cooley, No. 2 in Central Scouting’s final North American skater rankings after he was second in the NTDP with 75 points (27 goals, 48 assists) in 51 games, also made sure to watch, and as Wright hopes It’s not the last time you’re in the building.
“It’s such a special place here,” he said. “It’s a place where I can really see myself here. I love being here. All the history here, it’s a special place to play.”
Cooley, committed to the University of Minnesota next season, also said he would be a good fit for the Canadiens.
“I’m a two-way player who has a high ceiling, a lot of room to grow in my game, keep getting stronger,” the 18-year-old said. “If I keep doing what I’m doing and keep putting on the weight (5-foot-10, 180 pounds), filling out my body, I think I can be a great player for their team.”
Slafkovsky, No. 1 in Central Scouting’s final international skater rankings, visited Montreal for hockey camp in 2014, when he was 10 years old. He hopes his next visit will last longer, but he knows there isn’t much he can do to influence the Canadiens’ pick on Thursday.
“It’s not my decision in the end,” he said.
Slafkovsky scored 10 points (five goals, five assists) in 31 Liiga games, but he stood out for Slovakia on the international stage. The 18-year-old was named Most Valuable Player at the 2022 Beijing Olympics after scoring a tournament-high seven goals in seven games and led Slovakia in the 2022 IIHF World Championship with nine points (three goals, six assists). ) in eight games.
Being on the ice with the youth players provided a welcome break from the pressure of draft week.
“I’m not sure many of them knew what we were talking about at all,” Geekie said. “But it was so much fun. Just hanging out, even the guys hanging out together was great.”
Geekie and Savoie were paired with a group of boys, Cooley and Gauthier were with another group, and Wright and Slafkovsky were together.
Wright and Slafkovsky have built a friendship dating back to their time together visiting the Stanley Cup Final in Denver and touring the New Jersey Devils’ practice facility.
“It was fun,” Slafkovsky said. “I wanted to stand next to him so that there would be something to write in the newspapers since we were together.”
Gauthier said he’s not too nervous about Thursday yet, but said that will likely change when he and his family arrive at the Bell Centre.
“I feel like I’ll assimilate once I get on the track and see all the teams on the court and see my name on the seat,” the 18-year-old said. “I think that’s when I’m going to really sink in. It’s something I’ve been looking forward to and it’s crazy how it’s already here.”
Following the clinic, the top prospects met with the media at the Montreal Science Center and were then able to watch the 2022 NHL World Championship Games North American club championship.
The rest of their last day before the draft was spent meeting with NHL teams and spending time with family and friends who were with them in Montreal.
But the players know what’s coming Thursday, and for one of them, the stay in Montreal will be longer than this week.
“It’s probably the biggest moment of my life,” Wright said. “Everything I’ve worked for, everything I’ve prepared for my whole life. But it’s more of a nervous, excited, nervous kind of energy. It’s out of my control now. It’s not something I can influence anymore. Experience, everything about today and tomorrow. Take one step at a time.”
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