King would have been the one of the last player that most
Before final cuts were made at Vancouver Canuck
training camp this year, Jason King would have been the one of the last
players that most people would have thought to make the 2003-04 squad. The
22-year-old left wing had played eight games for the Canucks in 2002-03,
spending most of his time with the AHL Manitoba Moose. Most expected him to remain with the Moose,
but King was on the 23-man Canuck roster for the season opener vs. Calgary, the
only rookie to crack the roster. High profile rookies Ryan Kesler, Kirill
Koltsov and Brandon Reid did not make the cut.
Even after it was announced that King would be on
the opening night roster, it wasn’t certain he would actually get to play. He
might be like most rookies, win a spot at camp, sit in the press box for a few
games and then be sent back to the minors. When opening night was rolling
around the corner vs. the Flames, Coach Crawford had King penciled in to play
on the right side with Daniel and Henrik Sedin. Was this just Crawford trying
to get a winger to get the Sedin twins going? Crawford has tried ever winger
possible with the duo over the past few seasons. He used Trent Klatt, Trevor
Linden, Matt Cooke and even Todd Bertuzzi on a line with the Sedins, and so
far, nothing was working.
Jason King brought excellent skating and a good
shot to the left wing side of that second line. He scored his first ever NHL goal on opening night at General
Motors Place in Vancouver. Coach Crawford must have liked what he saw from King
and the twins they were kept together and indeed have had good production. It
finally looks as if the Canucks had found their winger on the second line. King is a bit of a surprise to the
organization, selected as a 20-year-old in the seventh round of the 2001 Entry
Draft. He’s a late round pick that has
earned dividends already. Averaging
13:11 in icetime per game, he is a key part of a line that is itself a key part
of Vancouver’s early success.
It’s only mid-November and the Sedins are having
career year. King has played in all 16 Canuck games this year, scoring nine
goals, is fifth on the Canucks in scoring and is tied with the Bruins’ Patrice
Bergeron for first in rookie scoring with eleven points. He has more points
then Calgary’s Jarome Iginla, Colorado’s Teemu Selanne and Dallas’s Mike
Modano. How’s that for company?
If King keeps up the pace, he could be the first
Canuck to win the Calder trophy since Pavel Bure won it in 1992.