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.
We were tipped off to the players’ movements when Kuznetsov posted a selfie with his wife on Instagram shortly after boarding a plane at 2AM on Thursday. His caption was, “✈️✈️✈️ DC,” which means either that he had two connecting flights or — like me — he realizes that emoticons are effective only if you repeat them a lot.
Eight hours later, Orlov posted a photo posing with his girlfriend at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in D.C. I cannot tell if his broken left arm is healed or out of the cast yet.
On Monday, Maria Kirilenkoannounced through R-Sport that she and Alex Ovechkin were dunzo. “There are a lot of reasons, but I wouldn’t want to go in detail,” Kirilenko said, as translated by Fedor Fedin. “I’ll say just that our relationship is over, but I respect Sasha as a person and an athlete and sincerely wish him athletic success in the future.”
Without sharing those details, the gossip hounds turned to speculation.
Case in point: Ovechkin, who is currently vacationing on a French beach, posed in photos that got published on the internet. One person in those photos was gymnast Karolina Sevastyanova. Sevastyanova was scrutinized in particular for a) being a woman, and b) being near Alex in those photos.
There were probably folks who had their hearts set on Alex Ovechkin winning a Nickelodeon Kids Choice Sports Award. I don’t know any of those people, but they probably exist. Probably in Fairfax County. Anyway, those people are all heartbroken right now. Ovechkin has lost the award for Sickest Moves (no, seriously) to soccer star Alex Morgan.
The goofy-grinned, soon-to-be 23-year-old was probably best among all the fresh faces on the blue line. Spending nearly half of his time with Mike Green, Schmidt put up a positive possession score of 50.6%, a rarity amongst Caps defenseman last season. He has a big shot, a good first pass, and a great attitude.
With the signings of Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik, Schmidt will likely be relegated to Hershey– barring injury or something unexpected during training camp. Schmidt is a key part of the Caps’ blue-line depth and should receive the big minutes in Hershey that he needs– including on the power play and penalty kill– to continue his development.