Aaron Ekblad, a 15-year-old defenceman, has been granted "exceptional player" status, making him eligible for the Ontario Hockey League draft in May.

Ekblad is the first player since John Tavares in 2005 to be given such status. Tavares went first overall to the Oshawa Generals in the 2005 OHL draft and played four OHL seasons before being taken first overall in the 2009 NHL entry draft by the New York Islanders.

The six-foot-three 200-pound Ekblad played for the Sun County Panthers Minor Midget AAA program this season, recording 34 points in 30 regular season games and 21 points in 18 playoff games.

Ekblad was granted special status after a Hockey Canada review.