Future Considerations: Scouting the exceptional Landon DuPont

Future Considerations: Scouting the exceptional Landon DuPont

By winning the WHL’s lottery with the best odds last week, thus locking up the first overall pick for the league’s draft on May 9, the Everett Silvertips were assured of getting a special player.

Not just special, exceptional.

If you aren’t already familiar, you’ll soon come to know the name Landon DuPont, a 14-year-old defenceman playing for Edge School’s U18 squad. He won’t turn 15 until a few weeks after the WHL Draft and would only be in Grade 10 when the next season begins but if, as anticipated, he is granted exceptional player status DuPont could be playing the highest level of junior hockey in Canada next fall against players up to five years older than him.

“The announcement has not been made on DuPont yet, but the belief is it will be given to him next week,” Elliotte Friedman reported on last Saturday’s Hockey Night in Canada.

Though eight players have been granted early “exceptional” access to one of the CHL leagues before, only one has done so in the WHL: Connor Bedard. And as we watch him charge towards the NHL’s Calder Trophy as an 18-year-old, near point per game player after crushing WHL competition for three years, DuPont would arrive with heightened levels of anticipation, fairly or not.

But to be granted this access, a player isn’t only measured by his on-ice skill, but also is off-ice readiness.

“I think he’s capable of making that adjustment next year and playing as a 15-year-old,” Edge coach James Poole told our Eric Francis when we first reported on DuPont in December.

The son of former NHLer, and Calgary Flames draft pick, Micki DuPont, Landon racked up 62 points in 30 games for the U18 Edge this season, leading the team in points and goals (19).

It’s important to remember the NHL is a ways off — his 2027 eligible year is still a new NHL CBA away — and the journey ahead long and challenging. DuPont is still a young kid. But his talent is most certainly well on the radar and we might soon really get an idea of what sets him apart from others in and around his age group.

Our scout Jason Bukala sat down to do some video scouting work and shares his early takeaways on what he sees in Landon DuPont’s game.


Over the course of my scouting career, I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to evaluate top rated prospects from around the world.

During my time with the Nashville Predators and Florida Panthers, our staff was proud to select players like Ryan Ellis, Mike Matheson, Aleksander Barkov, Aaron Ekblad and Owen Tippett in the first round of the draft.

But the one player who stood out among those is Ekblad.

Ekblad was one of those truly special talents. When he was only 15 he was granted “exceptional” status to the OHL in 2011, becoming just the second player to do so following John Tavares in 2005.

Since then, six other players have earned that status across the three CHL leagues: Connor McDavid, Sean Day, Joe Veleno, Shane Wright, Connor Bedard and Michael Misa.

By all accounts, DuPont will soon join this list…

Meet Landon DuPont

• Dupont is a 5-foot-11, 170-pound, right shot defenceman best described as a transitional player and power play quarterback. He has elite vision and instincts on and off the puck, and in all three zones.

• His most outstanding attribute is certainly his creativity on offence, but he’s also a capable defender with sneaky push back physically.

• Dupont finished third in CSSSHL scoring with 19G-43A in 30 games played. He led all defencemen in the league.

• Ekblad was a “man child” by the time he arrived in the OHL. He grew tall at an early age. Dupont isn’t the same size as Ekblad, but he’s sturdy and strong for his stature and is an excellent skater.

Elite vision and skill

DuPont quarterbacks the power play and makes plays through seams by either directing pucks on net around defenders or sending it cross-ice to teammates working the flank.

Here are some examples of what I’m seeing when I scout DuPont:

• Power play quarterbacks pick opponents apart when their group has a 5-on-3 man advantage and the most patient ones allow the play to evolve. They are almost calculating in how they wait to execute with the puck.

Here’s an example of DuPont scoring a 5-on-3 goal against Shattuck-St. Mary’s:

• Especially for defencemen, finding a way to direct pucks on net around block attempts is an art form. It’s important to shoot pucks accurately from long range, too. Getting it there opens the door for a tip or rebound to reward the team with a goal.

• His offensive zone awareness, and ability to move from one quadrant to the next to make a seam pass, speaks to DuPont’s hockey sense and spatial recognition.

• All offensive talents have a bit of cheat in their game at times. In the following clip, although not egregious, DuPont presses up the boards in his zone and anticipates the puck will spill to the neutral zone. The play could have remained in his zone, but he took the risk and was rewarded with open ice in front of him for a rush. His toe drag and snap shot under the bar reminds a little of Connor Bedard.

More than just offence

The game is played in three zones, not just the offensive end, and DuPont is plenty responsible defensively. He’s not the tallest or heaviest defenceman (yet), but he competes to move opponents off the puck and create turnovers in his zone that lead to zone exits for his group.

• In the following clip, the play moves up the wall in DuPont’s zone and you can see how he anticipates the puck will exit the defensive end. When the opponents keep the play alive by chipping the puck deep below his goal line, DuPont regroups. The sequence shows off his small area quickness and agility before he bodies up to his opponent and knocks him off the play. The result is a simple zone exit for his forwards after DuPont killed the play down low.

• Hockey is a contact sport though, in a lot of ways, the physical elements of the game have faded in recent years. It’s more of a track meet than it has ever been.

So this next sequence warms my heart!

DuPont’s teammate is in complete control of the puck and it looks like he’s going to exit the defensive zone by skating the puck up ice. Unfortunately, the puck slides off his stick. Notice how DuPont adjusts, gaps up, and quickly puts an end to the threat with a physical play.

Looking forward

Hopefully Landon DuPont will be entertaining fans across the WHL as early as next season. He’s earned the right to be the first defenceman in WHL history to be granted exceptional status.

The scouting business provides people like myself the opportunity to evaluate elite talents like DuPont. It’s part of what makes the worldwide travel even more enjoyable.

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