Hockey Canada has granted Landon DuPont, son of a former Flame, exceptional status

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
19 days ago
On Monday, Hockey Canada and the Western Hockey League confirmed what folks around Calgary have been saying for awhile: defenceman Landon DuPont is a really special hockey player. It was announced that DuPont, the presumptive first-overall pick in the upcoming WHL Prospects Draft, has been granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada.

Who’s Landon DuPont?

Way back in 2000, the Calgary Flames drafted blueliner Micki DuPont in the ninth round of the NHL Draft. (The ninth round doesn’t exist anymore.) DuPont wasn’t big, listed at 5’9″ and 170 pounds during his NHL days, but he was a really hard worker and played 23 NHL games between stints with the Flames, Penguins and Blues.
He was with the Flames for three seasons before being swapped to Pittsburgh for Shean Donovan. While he didn’t play a ton in North America, he really blossomed in Europe and ended up playing pro hockey until 2019. His trophy case includes two DEL Championships in Germany, a Spengler Cup with Team Canada and a Calder Cup with the Saint John Flames.
Landon is Micki’s son, born in 2009. Landon’s generated a ton of buzz for his play in the CSSHL for the Edge School and he really impressed at the Circle K Classic during the Christmas season. He had 62 points in 30 games this season in the CSSHL… as a defenceman. He’s really good.
He’s widely expected to be selected first overall by Everett in the WHL Prospects Draft on May 9. He’ll be eligible for selection in the 2027 NHL Draft.

What’s exceptional status and why is it a big deal?

So here’s the way that eligibility typically works in the Canadian major junior ranks, and we’ll use Joe Iginla as an example.
Typically players are drafted by major-junior teams when they’re 15, but they’re not allowed to join a CHL team full-time until their 16-year-old season. (They’re limited to being short-term injury recalls until then.) Iginla was born in 2008, so he was eligible for the 2023 WHL Bantam Draft because he was 15 that year, but he’s not eligible to be a full-time WHLer until the 2024-25 season, because that’s the season that begins the year he turns 16. So Iginla could play briefly for the Oil Kings this season, but he wasn’t allowed to fully join them yet.
What exceptional status does is allow specific players approved by Hockey Canada to avoid that waiting period and join a CHL team a year early, during the season that begins the year they’re 15. Since DuPont was born in 2009, he would be eligible to be a full-timer in the Dub for the 2024-25 season.

A brief history of exceptional status players

The CHL introduced exceptional status in 2005-06, and here are the eight players who have been granted it prior to DuPont.
PlayerYearCHL DraftNHL Draft
John Tavares2005Oshawa (OHL), 1st overall, 2005NY Islanders, 1st overall, 2009
Aaron Ekblad2011Barrie (OHL), 1st overall, 2011Florida, 1st overall, 2014
Connor McDavid2012Erie (OHL), 1st overall, 2012Edmonton, 1st overall, 2015
Sean Day2013Mississauga (OHL), 1st overall, 2013NY Rangers, 81st overall, 2016
Joseph Veleno2015Saint John (QMJHL), 1st overall, 2015Detroit, 30th overall, 2018
Shane Wright2019Kingston (OHL), 1st overall, 2019Seattle, 4th overall, 2022
Connor Bedard2020Regina (WHL), 1st overall, 2020Chicago, 1st overall, 2023
Michael Misa2022Saginaw (OHL), 1st overall, 2022Eligible for 2025 NHL Draft
Pretty much all of the exceptional status players to this point have emerged as pretty strong major junior players. The most recent, Misa, had 56 points in 45 games in 2022-23 and followed that up with 75 points in 67 games this season. He hasn’t gotten to McDavid levels of junior dominance yet, but he’s quite good.
Time will tell what happens with DuPont, but it will be very exciting to see him jump right into the WHL to test himself against players as much as five years older than him.
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