WHL reschedules next entry draft from May to next December

North Vancouver's Connor Bedard was the first player to be granted exceptional player status by the WHL. (Garrett James/CSSHL Media)

The WHL has rescheduled the 2021 league draft from May to next December as it continues to react to the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, the WHL Cup -- an annual tournament featuring draft-eligible players from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba -- has been tentatively scheduled for October of 2021.

“Moving the 2021 WHL Draft from May to December allows additional time for players in the 2006 age group to be evaluated following a challenging season due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” WHL Commissioner Ron Robison said in a statement. “We anticipate minor hockey leagues and tournaments will be fully operational in the fall, which will allow players to compete at a high level once again.”

Players eligible for the 2021 WHL Draft are 2006-born and must reside in any of the following jurisdictions: Alberta, B.C., Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Yukon, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Last season, 15-year-old Connor Bedard made history as the first player in the WHL to be granted exceptional player status and join the league a year early. The Regina Pats selected Bedard first overall in the draft this past spring.

After the WHL announced it was rescheduling the draft, Sportsnet's Jeff Marek reported the OHL is considering moving its draft from April into June. The WHL regular season was originally set to begin Jan. 8, but that date has since been pushed back.

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