CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – It was a depth deal that continues to work out really well for the Charlottetown Islanders.
The Isles acquired forward Sam King from the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada on Aug. 26, 2016, for forward Sebastien Paquette. Charlottetown had drafted Paquette, a Montreal native, in the 12th round of the 2016 draft while King, a Hampton, N.B., native, was selected in the eighth round of the 2014 draft but had only played one game in each of the next two seasons for the Armada.
“When I was in Blainville, I was in a tough situation,” King explained before Tuesday’s practice. “I was the last cut a few years in a row, so I was definitely excited when I got the call from Charlottetown.”
It was one of head coach Jim Hulton’s first deals after taking on the general manager duties.
“To be perfectly honest, we viewed him as a depth player in the Maritimes,” Hulton explained. “When we initially made the trade, it was to have some insurance as a call-up.”
King came to the 2016 camp looking to earn a spot and as the roster got whittled down, he remained.
“When I got the notice (that) I was going to make the team, I was super happy and called the family and let them know,” King recalled. “It was pretty nice having them be able to come (to some of our games).”
King was a scorer in his minor hockey career, putting up 53 points in 28 games in his second year of bantam and 32 points in 34 games with the Saint John Vito’s in his only season of major midget. He played junior A in Woodstock, N.B., and Yarmouth, N.S.
“Coming up to this level I never really had the opportunity to show my skill,” King said. “Once I got the opportunity I kind of took . . . advantage and used my hard work and what not to prove myself.”
He recorded four goals and four assists in 44 games last season and has nine goals and 15 assists for 24 points in 62 games this year.
Hulton said there’s lots to like in King’s game on and off the ice.
“He brings energy, he brings consistency,” he said. “He’s very studious in his approach to the game. His preparation before the game is pro-like.”
Hulton said he works hard in the weight room, is a strong kid who has been a mainstay on the team’s penalty kill and is a valuable member of its checking line of late with Sullivan Sparkes and Cam Askew.
His biggest asset are his wheels, which often allow him to be first in on the forecheck, but quick enough to get back and help out defensively.
“In today’s game, it's all about getting up and down the ice in a hurry, and he does that,” Hulton said.
Tonight, King heads home with his teammates for a 7 p.m. game in Saint John, N.B., with the Sea Dogs.
“It’s going to be fun, getting to play in front of the family and friends again. A lot of guys are back for March break, so it should be a good time,” King said.
King, who turns 20 in May, knows this could be his last time playing junior in Saint John with clubs only allowed to carry three overage players.
“You never know who’s watching,” King said. “There’s always teams from our league and other leagues watching, and you never know what they’re planning on doing. Hopefully, I can just see what doors open up for me.”
Hulton said the team hasn't made any firm commitments to players for the overage spots for next year, noting a lot can change with pro camp opportunities, but King is definitely in the mix.
“All he’s done is continue to impress all season with his work ethic and he’s a great example for younger players, so he fits a lot of the criteria for overages.”
Need to know
Who – A second-year forward with the Charlottetown Islanders.
Personal – King is a 19-year-old Hampton, N.B., native, who is listed as a five-foot-10, 185-pound left-winger.
Season GP G A Pts.
2016-17 44 4 4 8
2017-18 62 9 15 24
Did you know? King is one of two Islanders to play in each of the team’s 62 regular season games this season. The other is assistant captain Keith Getson.