Silvertips players celebrate during a game between against the Tri-City Americans at the Angel of the Winds Arena on Jan. 21, 2024, in Everett. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Silvertips players celebrate during a game between against the Tri-City Americans at the Angel of the Winds Arena on Jan. 21, 2024, in Everett. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Silvertips land No. 1 pick, chance to draft generational talent

Landon DuPont is the consensus top pick in next WHL prospects draft. Everett chief operating officer Zoran Rajcic said the team intends to select him.

EVERETT — The Everett Silvertips have won the Landon DuPont sweepstakes.

The WHL held its prospects draft lottery Wednesday, and the results gave Everett the first-overall pick in this year’s draft. That means the Tips will have the opportunity to select DuPont, a defenseman who’s considered a generational talent.

Everett chief operating officer Zoran Rajcic said the team intends to select DuPont first overall.

Everett, which begins the playoffs Friday against the Vancouver Giants, was in the draft lottery because the Tips acquired Kamloops’ first-round pick in last season’s blockbuster trade that sent Olen Zellweger and Ryan Hofer to the Blazers. Kamloops finished with the league’s worst record this season, giving Everett a 12-in-21 chance of getting the first-overall selection. The Prince Albert Raiders won the lottery, but the winning team can only move up two spots and the Raiders finished with the league’s fourth-worst record. Therefore, Prince Albert moved up to No. 2, leaving Everett in the top spot.

DuPont is the presumed choice to go first overall. The Calgary, Alberta, native played in the CSSHL U18 league as a 14-year-old this season, which is a feat in itself. But DuPont dominated the league, registering 19 goals and 43 assists in 30 regular season games and five goals and 11 assists in five playoff contests, leading Edge School to the league championship.

DuPont is considered likely to receive exceptional status from the WHL, allowing him to play full-time in the league next season as a 15-year-old. DuPont would be just the second player ever granted exceptional status by the WHL, joining forward Connor Bedard, who was the league’s Most Valuable Player last season as a 17-year-old before being picked first overall in the NHL draft.

There’s been talk that DuPont could choose the NCAA route rather than the WHL route, but that didn’t deter Rajcic.

“We’ve had plenty of communication with (DuPont),” Rajcic said. “Mike (Fraser, Everett’s assistant general manager) and Dennis (Williams, the team’s outgoing general manager) have met with his family, and we believe Everett is a good landing spot for him for the next chapter of his hockey career. Mike and I will discuss it, but it’s a no-brainer. There’s still work to be done before that, he still has to get exceptional status. But from what I’ve heard from Mike and Dennis he’s a generational player.”

This is the first time in 22 drafts that Everett has had the first-overall pick. The closest the Tips have been is third-overall in their first-ever draft in 2003, when they selected Zach Hamill.

This year’s prospects draft takes place on May 9. The Tips have two first-round picks, No. 1 and No. 19.

Hemmerling honored

Everett’s leading scorer Ben Hemmerling was named a second-team U.S. Division All-Star. Hemmerling, a 19-year-old winger from Sherwood Park, Alberta, had 30 goals and 62 assists in 65 games en route to being named Everett’s Most Valuable Player. He was the only Everett player named either a first- or second-team U.S. Division All-Star.

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