Defenseman Landon DuPont, who the Everett Silvertips selected first overall in Thursday’s WHL prospects draft, poses in front of the Tips’ offices. (Photo courtesy of Chris Mast)

Defenseman Landon DuPont, who the Everett Silvertips selected first overall in Thursday’s WHL prospects draft, poses in front of the Tips’ offices. (Photo courtesy of Chris Mast)

Patterson: Tips fans, get ready for the Landon DuPont show

Everett is getting a generational talent who will make nights at Angel of the Winds Arena must-see viewing.

OK Everett Silvertips fans, now’s the time to get your season ticket renewals in. These next three seasons are going to be the Snohomish County sports world’s, “I was there when …” moment.

Landon DuPont is coming to Everett, and he’s going to make nights at Angel of the Winds Arena a can’t-miss spectacle.

DuPont, who the Tips selected with the first-overall pick in Thursday’s WHL prospects draft, is the biggest hockey thing to hit the county since the Tips arrived in 2003. We’re talking the equivalent of seeing NHL superstar Connor McDavid on a weekly basis during his junior years. Or Cale Makar. Or any other player whose name comes up in Hart Trophy conversations.

The closest thing to DuPont’s arrival in Everett is when Peter Mueller joined the team in 2005. That was a big deal. Mueller was the rare U.S. National Team Development Program player who was playing a year ahead of his age group, and he was the star of the team. His committing to the WHL was an enormous occasion, especially at a time when it was even rarer for a superstar American to spurn the NCAA to play in the WHL. Mueller justified the hype as he was named the 2006 WHL Rookie of the Year, was selected eighth overall in the 2006 NHL draft, and was a first-team Western Conference All-Star as he led the Tips to the Scotty Munro Trophy for the league’s best record in 2006-07.

That was big. This is bigger.

DuPont is the type of prospect never before seen in the WHL. The Calgary, Alberta, native is the first defenseman ever to be granted exceptional status by the league, meaning he’s eligible to play full-time immediately as a 15-year-old. The only other player ever granted exceptional status by the WHL is Connor Bedard. All Bedard did was score 71 goals in 57 games and win the league’s MVP award as a 17-year-old, get picked first overall in last year’s NHL draft, and notch 61 points in 68 NHL games as an 18-year-old rookie.

DuPont is considered the defensive version of that.

As a 14-year-old DuPont dominated the best under-18 league in western Canada, recording 19 goals and 43 assists in 30 games in leading the Edge School to the CSSHL championship. Those numbers would be insane for a 17-year-old forward. But a 14-year-old defenseman? It’s unthinkable.

”For him to do what he did at the U18 level in a very good league, he kind of proved his dominance and proved to everybody that he’s an exceptional player,” Everett assistant general manager Mike Fraser said. “He checks off all the boxes: He’s an elite skater, he’s great with the puck, and he’s probably been underrated as a defender. The best part of it is when you talk to him off the ice he’s so calm and easy to talk to. He’s a level-headed young man with very good character.”

Though there was no official announcement of DuPont signing with the Tips in the immediate aftermath of the draft, he was in Everett and wearing a Tips jersey when he was interviewed on the WHL’s YouTube broadcast of the draft after being selected — Fraser said he hopes to get the signing done soon.

“It’s just an amazing organization, run really well” DuPont said during the broadcast.

“I’m just super excited and super honored to be picked. I just can’t wait to get going.”

DuPont is getting a bit of a break by going to a U.S. Division team. In Canada he would be like a lab specimen under a microscope, followed relentlessly by the media — just look at the huge crowds Bedard drew when his Regina Pats played on the road during the 2022-23 season. Everyone in hockey-mad Canada wanted to get a glimpse of greatness. But in Everett the scrutiny won’t be quite as intense. He’ll be given more opportunity to develop away from the brightest spotlight — and to stay a kid for a couple more years.

If DuPont lives up the hype, we could hear his name announced first during the 2027 NHL draft, and he’ll become an NHL star. Everett hasn’t had one of those yet in it’s 21-season history. What would it be like listening to NHL broadcasts, hearing the color commentator describe one of the league’s top players as a former Everett Silvertip?

The Tips have provided a lot of exciting moments over the years as one of the most consistently successful franchises in the WHL. But this is on a whole other level. We’re on the verge of the most exciting time ever to be a Silvertips fan.

Tips acquire goalie, overage forward

The Tips made a pair of trades during Thursday’s draft, acquiring overage forward Tyler McKenzie from Medicine Hat and 18-year-old goaltender Jesse Sanche from Kamloops. McKenzie came at a price of a third-round pick in this year’s prospects draft, while Sanche was dealt for 19-year-old defenseman Niko Tsakumis and a second-round pick in the 2026 prospects draft.

McKenzie, a native of Red Deer, Alberta, is entering his fifth season in the WHL. The 6-foot, 190-pounder had 16 goals and 31 assists in 68 games with the Tigers last season, serving as Medicine Hat’s captain. McKenzie becomes a candidate to fill one of Everett’s three overage roster spots along with forwards Dominik Rymon and Beau Courtney and goaltender Ethan Chadwick. Forwards Ben Hemmerling and Austin Roest have signed NHL contracts and are expected to play professionally next season, while forward Cade Zaplitny and defenseman Dexter Whittle have indicated they plan on heading to university.

Sanche, a native of Kelowna, B.C., was a second-round pick in the 2021 prospects draft. The 6-foot-1, 182-pounder appeared in 30 games for the Blazers last season as a rookie, going 6-17-1-0 with a 4.66 goals against average and .872 save percentage. He gives Everett another experienced option alongside Chadwick as the Tips look to replace graduated overager Tyler Palmer.

Tsakumis, from Richmond, B.C., appeared in 78 games over two seasons with Everett, notching four goals and 15 assists. He was one of four 19-year-old defensemen on the Tips’ roster, with Everett needing to make room for the likes of DuPont, 16-year-old Brek Liske and 17-year-old Kaeson Fisher on the blue line.

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