Ben King – 2022 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

Ben King

2021-22 Team: Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
Date of Birth: May 15, 2002
Place of Birth: Vernon, BC, Canada
Ht: 6-foot-3 Wt: 201 pounds
Shoots: Right
Position: Center/Right Wing
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 third-year eligible

Rankings

Before coming to the Red Deer Rebels during the 2019-20 season, Ben King was previously a first-round (13th overall) pick of the Swift Current Broncos in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft. Selected out of the CSSHL’s Pursuit of Excellence U15 Prep Program, he had 16 goals and 46 points in 22 games during his draft year. Obviously, the Broncos saw something in the then-14-year-old to make him a top-15 pick in that draft.

Unfortunately, King couldn’t really get it going with the Broncos, as he finished his career with only nine goals and 34 points in 71 games before the 2019-20 early-season trade to the Rebels. Almost immediately, he found his legs with his new team as he got off to a great start putting up a goal and four points in his first four games. By the end of the season, he had 16 goals and 38 points in 46 games and had appeared to have found a home in Red Deer.

Related: THW’s FREE 2022 NHL Draft Guide

As we all know by now, the good times kept rolling into the shortened 2020-21 season when King recorded 12 goals and 28 points in 21 games, setting the table for the historic season he had in 2021-22. In fact, he did exactly what Rebels GM and head coach Brian Sutter envisioned for him when he acquired him for a bunch of prospects in November of 2019.

“Shaun (Sutter) and I felt at the time – we knew we were trading for a player that had a tremendous amount of skill, good sized player and just had to figure some things out,” Sutter said. “He can shoot, he’s smart and he’s playing a strong, 200-foot game now.”

Ben King Red Deer Rebels
Ben King, Red Deer Rebels (Red Deer Rebels/Rob Wallator)

Passed over in both the 2020 and 2021 NHL Drafts, King won’t be looked over a third time, at least he shouldn’t be according to Sutter. “It’s hard to believe anybody can look past him now, with the season he’s having as a 19-year-old, going into this draft” (from ‘King, Bains hunt down pro contracts as Red Deer Rebels success continues’, Red Deer Advocate, 3/3/22).

At 6-foot-3, King has an intriguing package of size and skill, and with the insane season he just had in the WHL where he posted 52 goals and 105 points in 68 games along with four goals and 10 points in the playoffs, there should be a team that takes a flyer on him in the later rounds. Could it be the Vancouver Canucks, who recently signed his partner-in-crime, Arshdeep Bains?

Unforunately, despite King’s hockey IQ and ability to score goals from in close, his skating leaves a lot to be desired. Scouts also don’t like the fact that he isn’t consistently physical given the size he possesses. Finally, he seems to require skilled players like Bains on his line to facilitate his offence. Those factors might lead to him being passed over a third-straight time. Having said that, I don’t really see a world where someone doesn’t think he’s worth a look in the seventh round. If nothing else, a team should sign him quickly in the offseason as an undrafted free agent.

Other THW Draft Profiles

Ben King – NHL Draft Projection

Given King’s dominance in his final year in the WHL, albeit as a 20-year-old, I can see a team selecting him at the earliest in the fourth or fifth round. If not there, he is a prime candidate for a sixth- or seventh-round dart by a team like the Tampa Bay Lightning who have notoriously developed late-round picks into premium NHL talent (see Ondrej Palat and Ross Colton).

Quotables

“King is the exact same player that he has always been in the WHL, but he has made significant progress this season when it comes to playing to his strengths. He is a large center with good offensive sense and who is hard to knock off the puck, leading to a lot of points getting scored in the home plate area. Displays a lot of poise in the cycle, winning 50/50 battles and then protecting the puck while he and his teammates slowly wear down the opposition. He is also decently dangerous from further out, because he can beat goalies cleanly with his shot and has above average vision and passing ability.” – Derek Neumeier, FC Hockey (from ‘23827 – Red Deer vs. Calgary Game Report’, FC Hockey, 5/4/22)

Ben King Red Deer Rebels
Ben King, Red Deer Rebels (Red Deer Rebels/Rob Wallator)

“The extra space of the power play allows King’s vision, shooting, and thoughtfulness to shine. He creates different looks from the same position (half wall): shot-pass for a deflection, cross-slot pass and step-in wrister.” – Mitch Brown, Elite Prospects (from ‘2022 Draft Guide – Ben King’, Elite Prospects)

Strengths

  • Size
  • Hockey IQ
  • Shot
  • Passing
  • Good in front of the net

Under Construction (Improvements to Make)

  • Skating
  • Isn’t consistently physical
  • Lacks creativity in the offensive zone

NHL Potential

If King doesn’t improve his skating, he likely won’t make it past the American Hockey League level. However, if he can clean that part of his game up and start to be more physical, he might be able to succeed as a fourth-line center who chips in 10-15 goals like Casey Cizikas or Brian Boyle. Or he might surprise everyone and be Milan Lucic (although that’s a bit of a dream scenario).

Risk-Reward Analysis

Risk – 2/5, Reward – 4/5

Fantasy Hockey Potential

Offence – 5/10, Defence – 6/10

Awards/Achievements

King walked away from the 2021-22 season with a number of awards and accolades, as he was named to the WHL (Central) First All-Star Team and won Red Deer’s Male Athlete of the Year Award. He also finished with the most goals in the WHL and was a finalist for WHL Player of the Year, which ultimately went to Logan Stankoven of the Kamloops Blazers.

Interviews/Profile Links

Ben King Statistics

Videos


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