CHL grants Landon DuPont exceptional status to play in WHL

Landon DuPont has become just the second-ever exceptional status player in the WHL. 

The 14-year-old defenceman will be eligible to play the entire 2024-25 WHL season. Barring a shock, he’ll suit up for the 45-win Everett Silvertips who hold the No. 1 overall pick in May 9, 2024 WHL Bantam Draft. 

To earn exceptional status, DuPont became the first 14-year-old defenceman to play in the CSSHL U18 full-time, and just the eighth skater. His 62 points were the fourth-most behind Connor Bedard, Matthew Savoie, and Gavin McKenna, while his 2.07 point-per-game clip beat out McKenna for the third-best rate. 

And if there was any doubt lingering, DuPont quashed it by tying Dylan Guenther’s playoff scoring record (16 points in 5 games) and established the assists record (11) en route to claiming the U18 Prep Championship. 

DuPont will step into the WHL as about as complete of a prospect as there is. He had complete command over the U18 level, even in the early stages of the season. Yet, he continued to showcase more creativity and details in his game as the year wore on. 

Offensively, DuPont has the full skill set: Explosive speed, booming one-timers, curl-and-drag wristers, fast-twitch puck handling, and the vision to find targets through multiple defenders. Forget making a good play; DuPont almost always makes the elite play. He’s a manipulative offensive talent, using angles, constant deception, and changes of pace and direction to shift the defence around as he hunts the perfect lane. Just as impressive, he makes these elite plays at full speed and under heavy pressure.

There’s no hesitation in his game. He activates into the play with every opportunity, but rarely overextends or chases an opportunity that isn’t there. While he has the skill to handle the puck for lengthy stretches, he already plays a heavy give-and-go style. 

Simply put, he’s an elite offensive talent with a level of projectability and nuance rarely seen at this level. 

Then, there’s DuPont’s defence. He’s engaged, physical, and detailed. He throws crushing hits but doesn’t chase contact needlessly. With explosive footwork, he easily matches even the fastest-moving attackers both in tight and open ice. There is no doubt he has the work rate, details, and engagement to handle the rigours of the WHL. 

Unlike past exceptional status players, DuPont will immediately step into a competitive team. Everett finished top-three in the Western Conference this season. They acquired the pick in last season’s blockbuster trade that sent Olen Zellweger and Ryan Hofer to Kamloops.

While Everett could lose their top-three scorers to the professional ranks, they’ll maintain a strong top-end, headlined by potential top 2024 NHL Draft prospects Julius Miettinen and Tarin Smith, as well as a plethora of high-scoring 2005 and 2006-born players. 

There will always be ups and downs throughout a player’s exceptional status season, but the combination of elite skills, advanced details, and a favourable environment should help DuPont become a star-level player in the WHL in short order.

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NHL Prospects CHL Edge School U15 Prep Edge School U17 Prep Edge School U18 Prep Edge School U18 Prep Everett Silvertips CSSHL U15 CSSHL U17 CSSHL U18 WHL Landon Dupont
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