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Regina Pats sign exceptional status player Connor Bedard ahead of WHL Draft

Click to play video: 'North Vancouver teenager on path to super stardom'
North Vancouver teenager on path to super stardom
(April 20) Connor Bedard will become the first 15-year-old to play full-time in the WHL next year. – Apr 20, 2020

It’s official. The Regina Pats announced they will be selecting forward Connor Bedard with the first overall pick in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft on Wednesday.

The 15-year-old will be the first exceptional status player in WHL history, meaning he can play a full season in the league despite his age. According to league rules, 15-year-olds can only play a maximum of five games unless their midget team’s season has ended. On rare occasions, WHL teams with a significant number of injured players on their roster have been granted permission for a 15-year-old to play more than five games.

Bedard signed a WHL Standard Player Agreement with the Pats on Tuesday.

“I am so honoured and excited to have the chance to be a part of such a great organization like the Regina Pats,” Bedard said.

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READ MORE: Regina Pats have first overall pick at Western Hockey League Bantam Draft

“I can’t wait to get to Regina and play in front of the awesome fans.”

And the Pats are happy to have him. As a 14-year-old, playing with West Van Academy of Canadian Sport School Hockey League, Bedard was named most valuable player/ He scored 43 goals, putting up 84 points in just 36 games.

“This is a big day for our organization,” said John Paddock, Regina Pats Pats VP of hockey operations and general manager. “Connor is an exceptional person and a great player; we look forward to seeing him in a Pats uniform next season.”

READ MORE: Regina Pats honour tickets purchased to final home game, cancelled due to coronavirus

Bedard joins the like of NHLers Connor McDavid, John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, among others, to be given exceptional status in Canadian Hockey League history.

Although it’s too early to know exactly where Bedard slots into the lineup, Pats head coach Dave Struch said he plans on putting him in situations to succeed.

“He’s going to get lots of opportunity to have a lot of success and to make mistakes. We’re a very professional team. And with these young guys, no matter what age they are, they get chances to fail and learn from their failures,” Struch said.

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“As excited as we are as an organization, we’re excited for Connor as well because he’s coming into a great situation.”

No matter the role, Bedard said he’s ready to live up to the hype and help get the organization back to its winning ways of the past.

Click to play video: 'WHL players, staff reflect on season being cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic'
WHL players, staff reflect on season being cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic

“I mean, obviously I’m just going to work my hardest every practice, every day and every game,” Bedard said.

“I do think I can make an impact if I’m playing at my best. I’m going to do whatever I can to help the team win.”

This is the Pats’ second first overall pick in their history. The Pats selected defencemen Colten Teubert first overall in 2005.

The 2020 WHL Bantam Draft takes place on Wednesday morning.

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