Exceptional player status in the CHL is only declared for those elite 15-year-olds deemed worthy of joining the major junior ranks a year early. Exceptional player status has been granted five times in the OHL – John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid, Sean Day, and Shane Wright – and just once in the QMJHL – Joe Veleno – but never before in the WHL. That is, until today. Just one day after the WHL was forced to make the disappointing announcement that the remainder of their season had been canceled, tonight they made the exciting revelation that for the first time exceptional player status has been awarded.
The lucky 15-year-old-to-be is Connor Bedard of North Vancouver, British Columbia. Bedard played this season with the U-18 team of West Vancouver Academy in the Canadian Sports School Hockey League. In 36 games, Bedard recorded a whopping 43 goals and 84 points. He led the league in both categories by a significant margin and contributed on nearly 50% of his teams total goals on the year. While Bedard is still undersized at 5’8” and 165 lbs., he is still four years away from his draft year and will spend all of that time in the WHL growing his already-impressive skills in addition to growing physically.
The WHL Bantam Draft is set for April 22, 2020 and Bedard is now expected to be the prize at No. 1 overall. The 2020 WHL Bantam Draft Lottery is scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday March 25 and will determine the order of the first six selections of the draft. In the running for the top spot are the the Swift Current Broncos, Moose Jaw Warriors, Tri-City Americans, Prince George Cougars, Regina Pats, and Red Deer Rebels. Just one will end up fortunate enough to land the first ever “exceptional” player in league history.