Wright gone: Windsor Spitfires snag Canadian world junior captain

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The London Knights were edged out in the Shane Wright sweepstakes by one of their biggest rivals.

Kingston Frontenacs star Shane Wright tries to get past Hamilton Bulldogs defenseman Nathan Staios during Ontario Hockey League action at the Leon's Center in Kingston on Friday March 18, 2022. Ian MacAlpine/Kingston Whig-Standard Kingston Frontenacs star Shane Wright tries to get past Hamilton Bulldogs defenseman Nathan Staios during Ontario Hockey League action at the Leon’s Center in Kingston on Friday March 18, 2022. Ian MacAlpine/Kingston Whig-Standard

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The London Knights were edged out in the Shane Wright sweepstakes by one of their biggest rivals.

The Windsor Spitfires swooped in Monday night to acquire the Canadian world junior captain from Kingston. The Knights had been in conversation with the Frontenacs this week but didn’t come together on a deal before the OHL trade deadline, which is Tuesday at noon.

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The Spitfires picked up Wright and a conditional 14th round draft pick in exchange for forward Ethan Miedema, defenseman Gavin McCarthy and seven draft picks (two conditional). McCarthy plays in the USHL and is committed to Boston University.

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“Anytime you get the captain of the gold-medal winning Team Canada junior team is a great day for the organization and the City of Windsor,” Spitfires’ general manager Bill Bowler said.

As late as Monday, many league followers expected the Knights to move in and secure a deal for the 19-year-old Wright, who started this season in Seattle, but was returned to Kingston after the world junior tournament was complete. Aside from London, the Ottawa 67’s, Peterborough Petes and Barrie Colts were also rumored to be possible trade destinations.

The Western Conference-leading Knights should get acquainted with the 19-year-old Seattle Kraken first-rounder in a hurry. Windsor visits Budweiser Gardens Sunday at 2 pm – the first of five more meetings between the two clubs in the regular season.

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The Knights are three points up on the Spitfires who are tied for second place in the conference with the Saginaw Spirit.

The first overall pick in the 2019 OHL Draft, Wright was eighth in league scoring last season with 32 goals and 94 points in 63 games.

The Knights did complete a pair of moves Monday. They sent Ben Bujold, their first-round pick in 2020, to Hamilton for a third- and fifth-round selection. Then, they shipped rugged Nicholas Yearwood to Sudbury for a 10th-rounder.

Bujold, an 18-year-old from Ottawa, is strong on faceoffs and has become dependable defensively, but only scored four goals and 11 points in 71 games over the past two seasons.

“He’s a good player,” Knights general manager Mark Hunter said. “I just think he has got to find ways to get offense into his game. I think there is more offense from him there. He’s a great person. Top shelf.”

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The deal offers Bujold a fresh start with a chance to play higher in the lineup with the Bulldogs. That’s the same sentiment that propelled the 18-year-old Yearwood to the Wolves.

“Our top players are set right now,” Hunter said. “He brings a physical element, but he wanted to play a little bit more. Everyone wants to play (regularly) and this gives him more of an opportunity.”

The moves leave London with 12 available forwards on their roster, though defenseman Connor Federkow is capable of assuming a checking-line role. Ryan Del Monte, who broke his ankle while with Germany at the world junior tournament, is on the shelf for the next two to three months.

London also has forwards like Sam O’Reilly, Will Nicholl, Kaeden Johnston and Michael Levin available for call-up from the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League ranks.

Hunter expressed confidence in his current roster to continue to remain as a Memorial Cup contender.

“I like our team (right now),” he said. “We’ve got good character. They’re a close group. We’ve got good goaltending, defense and forwards. We’ll see what happens.”

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with files from Jim Parker of the Windsor Star

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