Aaron Ekblad, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound defenseman, has been granted "exceptional player" status, making him eligible to play in the Ontario Hockey League next season.
Ekblad, 15, is the first player since current New York Islanders
star John Tavares
to be granted "exceptional player" status.
"The process established for the exceptional player is an extensive evaluation of the player in all aspects of life," Ontario Hockey Federation Executive Director Phillip McKee told the OHL's website. "Aaron should be very proud, just as the OHF is of him, for achieving the exceptional player status."
The review was done by Hockey Canada, with a special evaluation panel reviewing Ekblad's hockey and academic skills to assess his level of maturity.
Ekblad played for the Sun County Panthers Minor Midget AAA program this season, where he had 34 points in 30 games, and then had 21 points in 18 playoff games.
Tavares received his "exceptional player" status in 2005, became the first pick of the 2005 OHL draft, and after four seasons in the league, was the first player picked in the 2009 Entry Draft.
Ekblad is eligible to be drafted in this summer's OHL draft; the Barrie Colts hold the first pick. He won't be eligible for the NHL Entry Draft until 2014.