The Regina Pats have a special opportunity after receiving the first overall pick in the 2020 bantam draft.
For the first time in WHL history a player has been granted exceptional status to enter the league full time as a 15-year-old.
Connor Bedard, from North Vancouver recorded 43 goals and 41 assists in 36 games this season with the West Van Academy Prep program.
Pats General Manager John Paddock, was on the Sportscage on Wednesday, and said being able to select Bedard is obviously something special.
“For us to have the opportunity to take the first ever exceptional player in western Canada and have him play for the oldest junior franchise in Canada is really nice,” Paddock said.
Paddock says he’s seen Bedard play a handful of times and has met with him and his family on numerous occasions.
He said Bedard’s skill level is obviously very high, but he also has an ability to make players around him better.
Paddock also confirmed what many already knew, they will be selecting Bedard with the first overall pick.
“It’s not a tough decision, and that’s no difference to a couple kids in Saskatchewan that are very good players, but he was granted exceptional status on a rating by people certainly other than the Regina Pats, there’s no question he’s a very special player,” Paddock said.
The Pats haven’t selected first overall since 2005, when they drafted Colten Teubert.
Other players to be given exceptional player status by the CHL are John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid, Sean Day and Shane Wright from the OHL, and Joe Veleno from the QMJHL.
Tavares, Ekblad and McDavid went on to become first overall picks in the NHL Entry Draft.
The exceptional player rule was introduced in 2005 for Canada’s three major-junior hockey leagues.