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McDavid granted exceptional player status

by Adam Kimelman
Connor McDavid, a 15-year-old forward with the Toronto Marlboros AAA Minor Midget team, has become the third player ever granted "exceptional player" status by the Ontario Hockey Federation, and will be eligible for the Ontario Hockey League draft this year as an underage player.

The standard draft age for OHL players is 16.

The 5-foot-11, 170-pound forward had 33 goals and 39 assists in just 33 games to earn the Greater Toronto Hockey League Player of the Year Award. He also led the 2012 OHL Cup Showcase Tournament in scoring with 11 goals and 8 assists in seven games. His 19 points were the most in the event since Edmonton Oilers center Sam Gagner had 17 points in five games in 2005.

"What a great accomplishment it is for Connor to achieve exceptional player status," OHF Executive Director Phillip McKee said. "The process established for the exceptional player is very extensive in examining all aspects of a player's life. Connor should be very proud, just as the OHF is of him, for achieving the exceptional player status."

Those who have watched McDavid this season believe he's ready to advance in his hockey career.

NHL Network analyst Craig Button told the Toronto Star that McDavid has "all the elements that top players have. … He has the hockey sense, the hand skill, the passing, the explosive skating, the ability to play in those areas of the ice that very few can, and be elusive and everything that goes with it."

The status review was conducted by Hockey Canada, with a special evaluation panel reviewing McDavid's hockey and academic skills to assess his level of maturity.

McDavid will be eligible for the NHL Draft in 2015.

The only players granted the exceptional player status were current New York Islanders center John Tavares in 2005, and Barrie Colts defenseman Aaron Ekblad last season. Both players went on to become the first player picked in the ensuing OHL draft.

Tavares led all OHL rookies -- and was tied for ninth in the league -- with 45 goals in his first season in the league, and his 77 points were second among first-year players.

In his first OHL season, Ekblad had 10 goals and 19 assists in 63 games. His 29 points were second among first-year OHL blueliners.

The 2012 OHL draft will be held April 7. The Erie Otters currently hold the first pick.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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