King takes first step to NHL after being drafted by Anaheim Ducks
Virtually every player who slips on a WHL jersey dreams of one day graduating to the NHL or at least playing pro hockey at some level.
Ben King’s path to the top level became much easier to navigate when he was selected by the Anaheim Ducks in the fourth round of the NHL entry draft on Friday.
King was the 107th overall pick in the two-day draft.
“It’s been a long process and it’s been an exciting day,” said the six-foot-three, 205-pound Red Deer Rebels centre, who celebrated his 20th birthday in May.
Passed over in the last two NHL drafts despite being ranked by the Central Scouting Bureau both years, scouts couldn’t ignore King this year after he notched a WHL career high 52 goals and recorded 105 points, second only in the league to linemate Arshdeep Bains.
He sniped 24 power play goals, tops in the WHL, and 15 game winners, second best in league history.
The Vernon, BC native, who didn’t attend the draft in Montreal and watched the proceedings unfold at home with his family and friends, said his improvement in other parts of his game during the 2021-22 season likely played a role in being drafted.
“I think my offensive skills have always been there,” he said. “Me and Arsh have been linemates for awhile and that started clicking this year.
“But I think personally I improved just a lot of little things in my game. The biggest thing was the consistency of being a player who plays hard each and very night.
“That really helped with my offensive production and just my game overall. So it was just the consistency I needed to improve on and I feel I did that during the season. It helped me with my offensive points that way.”
King completed his third season with the Rebels in May after being acquired from the Swift Current Broncos in November of 2019. The Broncos selected King in the first round of the 2017 WHL bantam draft, 13th overall.
When he was contacted on Friday, King had yet to have any discussions with the Ducks management.
Surprisingly, Rebels defenceman Jace Weir was passed over in this year’s NHL draft despite being ranked 56th among North American prospects by Central Scouting and attending the NHL Combine last month in Buffalo. King was ranked 96th by Central Scouting heading into the draft.