In 2005 John Tavares became the first player to be granted exceptional status by the OHL to start playing junior hockey a year early. Since then, five other young men have been granted the distinction: Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid, Sean Day, Joe Veleno and Shane Wright. None of those players have come from the WHL, though that may change next season.
Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reports that three prospective WHL players have applied for the status: Connor Bedard, Riley Heidt and Brayden Yager. There’s no guarantee that any of the three will receive it, but they are obviously names to keep in mind down the road. All three will be eligible for the 2023 NHL Entry Draft.
- The Czech Republic team at the World Juniors lost badly to the Canadians today, partly perhaps because they didn’t have alternate captain Jan Jenik in the lineup. Jenik has been one of the Czech’s best players in the tournament, but Frank Seravalli and Gord Miller of TSN report that his season is likely over thanks to the knee injury he suffered. That’s terrible news for the home fans at the tournament, but also for the Hamilton Bulldogs and Arizona Coyotes. Jenik was dominating in the OHL this season with 56 points in 27 games after being a third round pick in 2018.
- Another scare went through Toronto Maple Leafs fans watching the tournament today when Rasmus Sandin skated off clutching his wrist during the Sweden game. Sandin was slashed hard and left the game, but x-rays were negative according to Henrik Sjoberg of hockeynews.se. Sandin of course may be needed by the Maple Leafs this season now that Jake Muzzin is out with a broken foot.