With the Red Deer Rebels training camp in full swing, those in attendance saw plenty of fresh faces but also the return of some key players from last season.
Jace Weir, Christoffer Sedoff, Ben King, and Jayden Grubbe made their return to the Peavey Mart Centrium on Friday after attending their respective National Hockey League (NHL) camps in July.
One thing for certain was they came back to Red Deer with a new perspective and a few extra tools in their belt they hope to share with the rest of the team for the next few weeks.
The 2021-22 WHL leading scorer forward Ben King hit the ice at the Centrium after a career season last year with 52 goals and 105 points. After two years of going undrafted in the 2020 and 2021 NHL Entry Draft King was selected in the fourth round, 107th overall by the Anaheim Ducks in the 2022 Draft.
King said it was a great experience being down in Anaheim during the development camp for a week learning from the coaching staff.
“Just tried to be a sponge there and try and take as much as I can back here and back home into the summer training. It was a good experience and a lot to learn it was awesome,” he said.
The speed of the game he said was fast-paced but was different than what you would see in the regular season with everyone in mid-season shape.
“Everyone there was super talented, and high paced, high speed so it was cool and kind of eye-opening to get there,” he added.
King spent NHL draft day with his family in Vernon, B.C. where he had a gut feeling and heard chatter that he would be selected in the spot in the draft where he was picked. But admitted there was some uncertainty since he went undrafted two years in a row.
“You hear that you might go and then you end up not. So I wasn’t getting my hopes up too high but then when I saw a team like Anaheim select me I was super excited and just kind of excited to get down there and get things going. A super exciting day for myself and family and I just want to keep going from here,” he said.
Despite being back in Red Deer for training camp it is still up in the air whether King will return to the Rebels for the upcoming season as training camp with the Ducks is right around the corner. King will spend the next couple of weeks in Red Deer for camp getting his conditioning up to speed before leaving for Anaheim on Sept. 13.
King said the biggest takeaway from his experience so far in the NHL is developing good habits, which he hopes to share with his Rebels teammates.
“Just kind of lead the way in that perspective and just kind of do as much as I can to help out everyone,” he said. “Just doing everything hard you know passing pucks hard, every play just making a good play so I think just that and every situation just being hard on your stick and skating fast.”
Defenceman Jace Weir, who went undrafted in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft was invited to the Vegas Golden Knights development camp earlier this summer, echoed King’s comments saying forming new habits was the biggest payoff from attending the camp.
“Eating right, and getting the right sleep,” he said. “All the little things that go into hockey besides actually playing hockey. You got to prepare your body for hockey and every single day,” he said.
Weir, who contributed 25 points and 37 penalty minutes for the Rebels last season, was expected to be picked in the NHL Draft but when he wasn’t he said it was disappointing.
“At the same time, you got to take it as motivation. It’s not the end of the world and there’s a lot of NHL players that are playing in the NHL who haven’t been drafted. I just took it as motivation and something to just push me harder in the gym and on the ice,” Weir said.
Joining the team in Vegas in July he said was awesome and a great learning experience. The 18-year-old added they treated him great and was fun to be surrounded by so many great players.
“I learned a lot. I was very fortunate to go there so it was awesome,” he added. “It was definitely a little bit faster. It was nothing I wasn’t expecting that’s for sure I knew it was going to be faster. That’s the next level everything’s a bit faster, harder passes but at the same time I thought this is the level I got to be at so just keep pushing myself to be there every single day.”
Defenceman Christoffer Sedoff was invited to the Calgary Flames camp and Jayden Grubbe attended the camp for the New York Rangers who picked him in the 2021 NHL Draft.