Ben King was a player highly sought after by the Red Deer Rebels.
For his size, skill, age and of vital importance, his position.
The six-foot-two, 189-pound centre is now another piece in the collection of riches for Brent Sutter and the Rebels organization.
King, 17, was acquired from the Swift Current Broncos for a trio of players, including Jordan Borysiuk, Cohner Saleski and prospect Parker Lalonde, along with a third round pick in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft.
A steep looking price on the surface, not so much so according to the Rebels bench boss.
“There’s certainly a lot of potential and the position he plays. He’s big, he’s strong, he can skate and he can shoot. He’s a smart player, he’s got good hands,” Sutter said.
“We just felt we needed to find another centreman somewhere that can be part of this team for the next two, three years. He was someone that we keyed in on when we found out that he was possibly available… we seemed to have the right assets they were looking for.”
Not only does King factor in as an important piece this year, but down the road, he also fits into a dynamic one-two punch down the middle along with fellow 17-year-old Jayden Grubbe.
“The goalie, defence and down the middle of the ice has to be solid. We just felt moving forward, when (Brett Davis) leaves, we only had Grubbe as a natural centre-ice man. (Jace) Isely has played centre for over a year, but it’s still a work in progress,” Sutter said.
Sutter also likes the work King has done early on with Arshdeep Bains and Chris Douglas, a combo that he could see staying together even into next season.
King for his part, is still adjusting to his new home but said he’s been welcomed with open arms by his teammates.
“I was a bit shocked at the start,” he said of the trade. “But looking into Red Deer and what they have going here I was thrilled and excited to be a part of the Rebels.”
The Vernon, B.C. native joins a Rebels roster stacked with 17-year-old players. They have 10 on the roster, along with a pair of 16-year-olds. An encouraging sign for the newly acquired forward.
“We have a lot of young guys and we’re building for the future and I fit in great there with a lot of the young guys so it should be fun,” said King.
His depth of experience in the WHL is also rare for a player of his age. The former first round, 13th overall WHL Bantam Draft pick by the Broncos has already played 73 games in the WHL. That includes a stint with the Ed Chynoweth Cup winning group in 2017-18, where he learned a lot of valuable lessons from guys like Tyler Steenbergen, Alexsi Heponiemi and Glenn Gawdin.
“They won it that year and just being around those guys… they were very skilled and that just shows you where you want to be. They were good role models for me and showed me how to play the right way,” he said.
In his rookie year, King posted five goals and 21 assists in 48 games. Through 16 in Swift Current this year, he had four goals and four assists.
With that experience, comes confidence and King in two games with the Rebels has shown that so far. He’s also quite confident in the type of player that he’ll put on display night in and night out.
“I’m a good two-way guy. Pass first kind of player and playing with (Arshdeep Bains and Chris Douglas) a lot of skill and we work well moving the puck,” said King, who has an assist in two games for Red Deer.
The Vernon, B.C. native also showed up Thursday on the NHL Central Scouting Players to Watch List as a “C” prospect, indicating late round NHL Draft potential.
King will make his home debut Friday night when the Rebels take on the Medicine Hat Tigers. Saturday, Red Deer will host the Brandon Wheat Kings.
Friday game notes:
The Tigers are 12-6-1 on the year and 7-5 on the road. Overage captain James Hamblin guides the ship, with 12 goals and 28 points in the year. Rookie Cole Sillinger has also been lights out with eight goals and 17 points. They scored almost twice as many goals (77) as the Rebels (48). Goalie Mads Sogaard is also one of the top netminders in the WHL with 3.01 goals against average and 0.900 save percentage. The Rebels will likely counter with Ethan Anders, who had a stellar 31-save performance against the Prince Albert Raiders last Saturday. He owns a 3.797 GAA along with a 0.895 SV%. Brett Davis is the Rebels leading point producer with five goals and 14 points.