Photo: Tim Stough / Sweetest Hockey On Earth
The Washington Capitals have signed 2014 third-round pick Nathan Walker to a three-year entry-level contract. The 20-year-old becomes the first-ever Australian national to sign with an NHL team. Crikey!
Walker made his preseason debut with the Caps last season, playing as an unrestricted free agent on a tryout contract. He was one of the more impressive players during camp, showing off his speed, tenacious forechecking, and skill. His through-the-legs pass to Tom Wilson for a goal appeared on SportsCenter last September.
Walker also scored in a preseason game against the Winnipeg Jets, part of the Kraft Hockeyville festivities broadcast nationally in Canada.
Walker, who was not eligible to be signed by an NHL team last season due to the Tomas Hyka rule, instead inked a deal with the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League. Walker was one of four teenagers to play more than 20 games in the AHL last year, along with top prospects Filip Forsberg, Rasmus Ristolainen, and Stefan Matteau. In 43 games with the Bears, Walker had 11 points, playing in a variety of roles between the first and fourth lines.
Walker is most likely headed back to Hershey this fall to continue his development. A feisty, speedy forward with experience in Europe and North America, he is the third player from the 2014 draft class to sign with the Caps after Czech prospects Jakub Vrana and Vitek Vanecek did so earlier this month.
Walker is represented by Allan Walsh’s Octagon Hockey agency. We’re happy to report that Walker is comfortable enough to play with the Caps while his agent is comfortable not knowing where his client was actually born:
The Washington Capitals have signed the 1st Australian born and raised player to an NHL contract. Congrats to client Nathan Walker!
— Allan Walsh (@walsha) July 25, 2014
Via the Capitals:
ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals have signed forward Nathan Walker to a three-year, entry-level contract, senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan announced today.
Walker, 20, became the first Australian drafted to the NHL on June 28 after Washington selected him in the third round, 89th overall, in the 2014 NHL Draft. Walker registered 11 points (five goals, six assists) and 40 penalty minutes in 43 games with the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL) in 2013-14.
During the 2012-13 season, Walker recorded 27 points (seven goals, 20 assists) and 63 penalty minutes in 29 games with the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL. The 5’9”, 185-pound left wing represented Australia at the 2011 IIHF World Championship Division II tournament and at the 2012 World Championship Division 1 Group B tournament. Walker registered six points (four goals, two assists) and four penalty minutes in four games at the 2011 tournament and was named Australia’s best player by the tournament’s coaches.