Oakville-born Mississauga hockey star to be next ‘exceptional status’ OHL player — reports


Published April 13, 2022 at 8:10 pm

Michael Misa, who broke a scoring record set by Connor McDavid, will now follow the Edmonton Oilers superstar’s quicker path to the next stepping-stone in his hockey path.

The 15-year-old Misa, according to a report from Sportsnet, will be granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada and become eligible for the Ontario Hockey League priority selection draft. Since the rule was created in 2005 to accommodate Oakville native and present-day Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares, only seven players (including Tavares) have granted early entry to either the OHL, Quebec or Western leagues.

That is fewer than one every two seasons. The most recent exceptional-status OHL player is also from Halton Region. Burlington native Shane Wright, who now stars with the Kingston Frontenacs, is expected to be a lottery pick in the 2022 NHl draft.

The Oakville-born Misa led his Mississauga Senators through the gauntlet from wild-card team to winning it all during the recent OHL Cup tournament in Toronto. He scored 20 points during the tournament, eclipsing the record of 19 that McDavid set a decade ago. Misa also produced when it mattered most, tallying a hat trick and two assists during Mississauga’s 6-2 win against the Toronto Jr. Canadiens in the final on April 4.

According to The Hockey News, over their years together in youth hockey, the Senators team that Misa plays for has won 305 out of 358 games.

The OHL Cup tournament returned this spring after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Five of the top six point-accruers from last OHL Cup in 2019 have already appeared in the National Hockey League. The other was the aforementioned Wright, who, of course, cannot be drafted until this summer.

Misa is described as having a deceptive speed that accentuates skills, along with a nose for the net that helps his chances to capitalize the slivers of opportunity that materialize in close to the net.

The OHL has said it will use a lottery to determine the draft order this spring. All four non-playoff teams will have an equal chance of receiving the No. 1 pick.

The Niagara IceDogs, Saginaw Spirit and Sudbury Wolves have already been ousted from playoff competition. Either the Erie Otters or Sarnia Sting will also be in the lottery, depending on which one does not earn the final Western Conference playoff berth. The OHL regular season ends on Sunday.

Tough road

The process of receiving exceptional status also involves a Hockey Canada special evaluation panel that is charged with evaluating a boy’s potential in the areas of hockey skills, academic ability, and his mental and physical maturity. The Canadian Hockey League, which is the corporate parent of the OHL, has stated the aim is to make sure a 15-year-old will be best served by moving up instead of playing in his designated age group.

In fact, Jack Hughes, who is now a point-per-game player for the offensively-challenged New Jersey Devils, was reportedly turned down in 2016 after applying for exceptional status Three years later, he was chosen No. 1 overall in the NHL draft.

McDavid, Tavares and Florida Panthers defenceman Aaron Ekblad each progressed through the OHL to become No. 1 overall choice in the NHL.

The other early OHL entry was Sean Day in 2013 with the Mississauga Steelheads. Day was the first exceptional-status player who was not the first choice of the OHL priority selection draft. He has spent most of his pro career in the minor leagues, making his NHL debut with a two-game call-up to the Tampa Bay Lightning earlier this season.

The Quebec and Western leagues have had only one exceptional status player apiece. Joe Veleno, a forward from Montreal, received it in 2015. The 21-year-old moved up to the NHL full-time this season with the Detroit Red Wings.

In 2020, North Vancouver native Connor Bedard became the first in the Western Hockey League. His first season with the Regina Pats was truncated due to COVID-19 safety protections. This season, Bedard is having one of the best seasons by a 16-year-old in recent memory, with 49 goals and 92 points across 59 games with Regina.

(Cover image via RCAH Sports.)

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