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Anaheim Ducks select forward Ben King, of Vernon, in NHL Draft

King went 107th overall in the fourth round
Red Deer Rebels forward Ben King leads the WHL with 29 goals and in power play goals with 15. He’s also tied for the league lead with six game-winning goals. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)

Red Deer Rebels forward Ben King is one step closer to his dream of playing in the NHL.

After being passed up in the past two NHL Drafts, the 20-year-old product of Vernon, B.C. was selected in the fourth round, 107th overall by the Anaheim Ducks on Friday.

The six-foot-two, 205-pound centerman went undrafted in 2020 and 2021 but led the WHL with 52 goals last season, along with 53 assists in just 68 games.

King was the 96th-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting for the 2022 NHL Draft.

“As the draft gets deeper, I rely on our scouts’ passion level for our guys,” said Ducks Assistant General Manager and draft guru Martin Madden.

“Glen Cochrane loves this kid. He’s seen the progression from the time he was 17 to this season, how he stepped into a leadership role and how he produced and his led his team in different ways. Ben has unbelievable hockey sense, great vision, really good hands and finishing ability.

“Physically, he’s a really big body and he’s just starting to get into fitness to make the most of his talent. He was a 19-year-old (last season), yes, but the runway ahead of him is still very long. He’s not close to maxed out in that respect. I think our development staff will do a great job with him.”

King also led the WHL in game-winning goals with 15 and power-play goals with 24. He was also nominated for the WHL’s Four Broncos Memorial Trophy, handed out to the WHL Player of the Year.

He was acquired by the Rebels in November of 2019, for a package of prospects and draft picks. In exchange for King, the Rebels gave up forwards Jordan Borysiuk and Cohner Saleski, prospect forward Parker Lalonde and a third-round pick in the 2020 bantam draft.

He was the Broncos’ first-round pick, 13th overall, in the 2017 WHL bantam draft after scoring 16 goals and recording 46 points in 22 games with the Pursuit of Excellent bantam prep team.

The centre found instant chemistry with Rebels winger Arshdeep Bains. King posted 38 points in 46 games in his first season in Red Deer, before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. In the shortened season where the Rebels’ lived in their home rink, the teen posted 28 points in 21 games.

There were five Rebels on the NHL Central Scouting radar heading into the draft, but only King was selected.

Defencemen Jace Weir was ranked 56th by central scouting but did not get selected. Rebels Finnish blueliner Christoffer Seddoff, who posted seven goals and 54 assists in 65 games last season, was not selected. Rebels forward Kai Uchacz was also not selected. He was on the NHL Central Scouting Players to Watch mid-term rankings, but a mid-season knee injury dropped him off the final list.

Stettler’s Daylan Kuefler, who played two seasons for the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs, was picked in the sixth round, 174th overall by the New York Islanders. The six-foot-two, 192-pound winger had 59 points in 65 games with the Kamloops Blazers last season.

The 2022 NHL Draft took place over two days, with the first round on Thursday in Montreal and rounds 2-7 on Friday.

READ MORE: Vernon’s King scores WHL player of the week

READ MORE: Young Vernon singer tops talent search for Ribfest stage time


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