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Fourteen and WHL-Ready: Landon DuPont Sets New Standards for Young Hockey Talent

Five feet, eleven inches tall, and weighing 170 pounds, DuPont is a force to be reckoned with on the ice

Last week, Hockey Canada granted exceptional player status to Landon DuPont, a 14-year-old hockey defenceman from Calgary. 

Landon DuPont  Canadian Sport School Hockey League
Landon DuPont | Canadian Sport School Hockey League

The exceptional status allows skilled, underage hockey players to enter the major junior circuit early, meaning DuPont has earned himself a ticket to the Western Hockey League (WHL).

His exceptional status makes him eligible for the WHL draft in May, which would allow him to play in the league full-time starting next season.

DuPont is the second player in the WHL’s history to receive exceptional player status, behind Chicago Blackhawks rookie Connor Bedard, who received exceptional status in 2020

To put things into perspective, only nine players in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) history have received the designation since it was created in 2005. 

What’s even more impressive is that DuPont is one of three defencemen to earn the designation in CHL history. 

Toronto Maple Leafs centre John Tavares was the first to earn exceptional status in 2005. 

Other notable players to earn the designation include Florida Panthers defenceman Aaron Ekblad and Edmonton Oilers centre Connor McDavid. 

Of the eight players to receive exceptional status before DuPont, seven have gone number one in their respective major junior drafts, and four have been selected first overall in their respective NHL drafts.

There’s no doubt DuPont is on the road to greatness, but just how exceptional is he?

An Ice-Cold Genius

DuPont is used to being first. 

He was the first 14-year-old defenceman to play full-time in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL) U18. 

He earned 62 points playing for the Edge School U18 Prep Team, the fourth-most behind big names like Connor Bedard, Matthew Savoie, and Gavin McKenna.

On the ice, DuPont has a sharp eye. He can quickly identify an opportunity and seize it. On the other hand, if he does not see an opportunity, he will rarely chase or overextend.

DuPont’s confidence and caution are supported by his breakneck speed and ability to trick his opponents with quick footwork and skilled puck handling. 

DuPont is nothing short of elite. 

Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman Erik Karlsson | Patrick Bacon | Medium
Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman Erik Karlsson | Patrick Bacon | Medium

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

DuPont’s designation comes shortly after Michael Misa, who received exceptional player status last year and is a top prospect for next year’s NHL draft.

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

DuPont scored 19 goals and 43 assists in 30 regular-season games for a total of 62 points. In the 2022-2023 season, Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Erik Karlsson scored 101 points in 82 games.

On average, DuPont earns 2.07 points per game, whereas Karlsson earns 1.23. However, Karlsson plays in the NHL, and his average is based on far more games.

DuPont still has a long way to go before he reaches the likes of Karlsson, but he also has plenty of room to grow.

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