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BOUCHERVILLE, Que. — Joey Veleno has become the first player from Quebec to be given exceptional status to play as a 15-year-old in major junior hockey.

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League commissioner Gilles Courteau made the announcement on Twitter and on the league’s website on Thursday.

“I was informed by Hockey Canada this afternoon that Joseph Veleno has been granted exceptional status and is eligible 2015 @QMJHL Draft,” tweeted Courteau. 

Veleno, who turned 15 on Jan. 13, is expected to jump to the top of the list of prospects for the QMJHL draft on Saturday in Sherbrooke, Que.

The Saint John Sea Dogs, who reportedly met with Veleno’s family this season, hold the first pick in the draft.

He joins Connor McDavid, John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad and Sean Day, all drafted into the Ontario Hockey League, as 15 year olds granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada. Recent reports said Veleno’s request for the status was turned down because it was filed well after the Feb. 15 deadline.

The six-foot 168-pound Veleno, a centre from Kirkland, Que., finished 12th in Quebec midget AAA scoring this season with 52 points in 41 games for the Lac-St-Louis Lions. He also played for Quebec at the Canada Games.


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