Photo credit: Mark Evans/The Daily Telegraph
Nathan Walker, an Australian hockey player who attended Caps Development Camp last year, is one of 22 players who have been invited to this year’s rookie camp. After beginning last season in HC Vitkovice’s system, Walker played 20 games with the big-league Czech Extraliga club. Then, Walker crossed the pond to play for the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL.
In Youngstown, Walker made his mark with seven goals and 20 assists in 29 games, turning heads with his style of play. Walker is an agile and intense player. His grittiness, which may remind some of a young George McPhee, earned the five-foot, ten-inch forward the nickname Stormy.
Unfortunately, Walker’s breakout season got cut short after he got hurt in a hit from behind. He missed his team’s entire playoff run.
Among USHL players under 19 years of age, Walker’s 27 points in 29 games were good for 16th in the league in points per game (.93).
“Obviously he didn’t get to play a ton of games in the USHL, but the ones he did there’s no doubt he was one of the top forwards in the League – on our team or any team that we saw,” Youngstown head coach Anthony Noreen said on the Phantoms’ official site. ”We’re hoping that we can provide him the avenue this year to get looked at for the rest of the season and give him the best chance to pursue his dream of playing in the NHL.”
Despite his numbers, Walker went undrafted for the second straight year. Unlike last year (due to the Hyka rule), Walker is now eligible to be signed to an entry-level contract by the Capitals if he impresses this week.
Walker is certainly excited about the opportunity. “It’s pretty nice,” Walker said to the Phantoms in early August. “If it was a different team, I guess I’d have to set my roots again. But it’s really good that it’s the same team. They must have an interest in me, which is fantastic.”
“I’m going to go there [and give it] 1,000 percent,” Walker continued. “I’m going to be steaming. My biggest goal in my career is to make the NHL, and I’m going to do anything I can to get there.”
If Walker can land a deal, his dream of becoming the first Australian to make the NHL could become a reality.
This video probably describes Walker’s play based on speed and compete level the best.
Now that’s fancy.