Photo credit: The Daily Telegraph
Via Matias Strozyk of Elite Prospects, the Caps have decided to invite another undrafted player to Development Camp. After inviting Max Iafrate, the son of Al, they now wish to take a closer look at Australian (no, not Austrian) prospect Nathan Walker.
Walker, who was eligible for the NHL Draft for the first time this year, has played since 2007 in the HC Vitkovice system in the Czech Republic. He made the Extraliga roster last year, tallying four goals and five assists in 34 games to become the first Australian ever to play in the top European league. At the end of the season, he was ranked 25th among European skaters by the NHL Central Scouting Service.
Despite his small stature (5’10″, 185 lbs.), Walker can get physical. He’s aggressive, and his quickness should be a big asset for him when facing larger defenders.
Walker, 18, has already suited up for the Australian national team, playing 9 games in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons and posting six goals and two assists at the World Championships Division 2 and Division 1 B levels. Next year, the Australians will play in D2 again.
Although he was born in Cardiff, Wales and emigrated to Australia with his family at the age of two, Walker may still yet become the first Australian to get drafted in the NHL.
He can’t currently sign a contract with an NHL team due to what you might call the Tomas Hyka rule. According to the Section 8.9 of the CBA expiring Sept. 15th, a player who has gone undrafted cannot sign as a free agent if he played the previous season in Europe. That happened to the Czech forward Tomas Hyka, who was unable to sign with the Philadelphia Flyers a year ago and was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings as an overage player in the 2012 Draft.
That CBA rule may change if the NHL and players’ association agree to it (like how the Kovalchuk salary rule was created), and they won’t need to notify the public about it, but at this point it seems that Walker attending Development Camp is a sign that they could grab him on the NHL Draft next year.