I was working on my new patio on Sunday night, so I missed the entire Washington Capitals/Buffalo Sabres preseason game. Bummer, I know. Luckily for me, Steve Wilhite of CompuServe invented GIFs in the late 80s, so I didn’t to have to miss one of the greatest hip checks ever.
And I’m saying that last part seriously, without hyperbole.
Australian Nathan Walker is teeny-tiny. He’s a baby joey hanging out in his mama’s pouch. But when Walker knocked Vaclav Karabacek heels-over-head on Sunday night, his slight 5-foot-8 frame didn’t matter.
On Wednesday, CSN aired a feature by Jill “Sasha Whisperer” Sorenson on Washington Capitals prospect Nathan Walker. It’s a fascinating piece.
Sorenson documents just how difficult Walker’s road to the NHL has been. There are only 22 ice rinks on the entire (!) continent of Australia. The rink closest to Walker was 45 minutes away– we assume that’s drive-time in a V8 Interceptor Pursuit Special.
But the best part of the story was when Walker told a story about Jakub Vrana from rookie camp.
At Friday’s Rookie Camp, Washington Capitals prospect Nathan Walker was asked what the reception was like in Australia after he became the first countryman ever to be drafted into the NHL.
“It wasn’t as big [a deal] as I guess I was expecting,” Walker said to the media, captured by Monumental Network. “As you know, hockey’s not as big down there. I wasn’t making front pages or anything like that. But yeah, I had a couple of gigs and a couple of photoshoots.”
When asked what his weirdest photoshoot experience was, Walker dropped the single best nugget of his young career.
“I wouldn’t say the weirdest one, but the best one was the one where I got to take photos with kangaroos and koalas,” Walker said with a big smile. “That was pretty cool. They were all hoppin’ around everywhere. It was pretty good.”
[Emphasis added because kangaroos “hoppin’ around everywhere “demands to be emphasized.]
I needed to know moar. I needed to see moar. I tracked down Walker’s Australian representation and begged for proof.
Prepare for some of the greatest hockey photos ever to hockey: Aussie edition.
Andre Burakovsky during last year’s rookie game. (Photo: Chris Gordon)
Preparation for 2014-15 NHL season begins this week as rookie camps kick off around the league. Capitals’ camp will start today, and will end next Tuesday with a 3PM rookie game that has been held every (non-lockout-shortened) year since the Caps’ re-build.
Andre Burakovsky is the best Caps prospect yet to play a game with the big club (Photo: Elsa/Getty Images).
With rookie camp upon us, RMNB presents the new edition of its semiannual prospect rankings.
Prospect rankings factor in a player’s potential, his probability to reach his ceiling (including an assessment of that player’s adaptation to NHL’s style of play), and physical and mental maturity.
The Caps prospect pool is considered top-heavy, with four Caps prospects ranked in top-50 league-wide by both Corey Pronman and NHL.com. However, there’s believed to be a significant drop-off in talent after that. While Capitals management has tried to make their prospect pool deeper, they’ve still got work to do. The Caps are considered thin at center in particular, underlined by auditioning their two top wingers for a center slot.
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.
The Capitals’ NHL blue line is the deepest it has been in years, and the farm is starting to get stacked with defensive prospects as well. Nate Schmidt, Patrick Wey, and Connor Carrick have each shown that they will soon be ready to take the next step. Also developing rapidly: 2013 second-round pick Madison Bowey.
During last week’s Development Camp, the 19-year-old was one of the most mature prospects out on the ice. He dominated Saturday’s scrimmage, creating a number of chances on the rush.
Bowey’s most creative effort came early, a ridiculous no-look pass that led to Nathan Walker’s goal.
The Capitals have traded up again to get a pick in the third round back, moving the 104th and 118th overall picks for 89th overall selection. They then selected Australian forward Nathan Walker from the Hershey Bears of the AHL.