Landon DuPont granted exceptional status to play in WHL as a 15-year-old

Landon DuPont discusses what it was like to get a video message from Connor Bedard after he was granted exceptional status to play in the WHL as a 15-year old.

Hockey Canada granted Landon DuPont, a 14-year-old defenceman from Calgary, exceptional player status Monday.

That means DuPont will be eligible for the Western Hockey League draft May 9 and able to play in the league on a full-time basis starting next season.

DuPont becomes the first defenceman and second player in league history to receive exceptional player status.

The first was Chicago Blackhawks rookie Connor Bedard (2020).

DuPont becomes the ninth player — and third defenceman — in Canadian Hockey League history to receive the designation since it was created in 2005. Others to have received the designation include Toronto Maple Leafs centre John Tavares (2005), Florida Panthers defencemen Aaron Ekblad (2011) and Edmonton Oilers centre Connor McDavid (2012).

“Landon is a fine young man, who not only possesses tremendous talent on the ice, but has been raised with solid moral character, a positive attitude, and a great work ethic,” said WHL commissioner Dan Near.

“These attributes make him truly deserving of being among those exceptional players to come before him, and we look forward to him continuing his development in the WHL.”

Of the seven exceptional status players who have graduated from the CHL, six of them were selected in the first round of the NHL Draft, including four — Tavares, Ekblad, McDavid, and Bedard — who were chosen first overall.

The most recent player before DuPont to receive exceptional status was forward Michael Misa who was selected first overall by the Saginaw Spirit in the 2022 Ontario Hockey League draft. He is considered a top prospect for next year’s NHL draft.

“I’m extremely humbled to have received this designation,” said DuPont. “I’m excited to continue my development in the WHL and will work hard every day to continue to improve.”

The five-foot-11, 170-pound DuPont spent the 2023-24 season at Edge School, an under-18 prep team in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League.

He registered 62 points (19 goals, 43 assists) in 30 regular-season games, finishing tops among defenceman and third overall in scoring as Edge captured the league title.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.