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.
For those of you who still watch SportsCenter, you’re already aware they have a Top Ten list plays that airs every day. It rarely includes hockey. …Except on Wednesday, when a certain almost-Capital made the list. If they get ESPN down in Australia, I’m pretty sure the Walker family and friends are looking stunned mullet right now (that means they’re surprised, or something).
Nathan Walker, who Craig Laughlin said was the best player on the ice during last night’s Baltimore Hockey Classic, hit number eight on the the top ten. Walker’s sick unbelievable pass to Tom Wilson earned the honors, the same pass that resulted in Wilson’s first goal of the preseason. The Aussie split the wickets of Joseph Morrow’s legs to set up The Ten Train for a straightforward one-timer.
Walker unofficially has one goal and one assist in two games. He also earned a penalty shot against the Boston Bruins.
On September 17, 2013, In Photos, Video, By Fedor Fedin
Credit: Washington Capitals
Jack Hillen scored the Capitals’ first goal of the preseason during the Kraft Hockeyville game in Belleville, Ontario on Saturday night. Or so we thought. Per Mike Vogel, Australian Nathan Walker has been changed to the official goal scorer. Or at least he should’ve been.
“I think it did,” Walker’s linemate Troy Brouwer told Vogel when asked if he thinks Walker deflected Hillen’s shot. “I went over and told the ref. I know there aren’t a whole lot of cameras in that little rink to straighten it out. They said they changed it, but they didn’t announce it. Those things are very important in preseason. In the regular season guys don’t care as much. But in the preseason, it could be the difference between making the team and not making the team. Hopefully he got credit, or hopefully who needs to know knows that he got a touch on it.”
Nice to Brouwer to speak up for a younger guy like that.
A good impression in the preseason is crucial to Walker’s chances of getting a contract. As the only player in camp not affiliated with the Caps or Bears, Walker has to distinguish himself and find his place in the organization soon. And since scoring goals is a still a going concern in hockey, there’s no better way to build a resume than putting the puck in the net. Walker did exactly that.
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.
2012 first-round pick Tom Wilson absorbs a big hit. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)
Day two of Caps Development Camp took place today, with timed tests for the prospects in the morning and a scrimmage in the afternoon, but it was what was said off the ice that was most interesting. Olaf Kolzig talked abouta possible lockout, Stan Galiev talked about gaining nearly twenty pounds, and Max Iafrate brought us the distressing news that his father now listens to rap music.
Connor Carrick had the quote of camp however, explaining what Adam Oates’ first day as coach was like. “He’s nervous, we’re nervous, everybody’s nervous so nobody’s nervous.” Somebody put that to music, we’ve got a new hit for Carly Rae Jepsen.
In regards to the scrimmage, Team Red avenged Team White after their 3-1 loss yesterday, and won today, 2-1. AustralianNathan Walker scored the white team’s lone goal, while the red team’s two tallies were scored by Aaron Gens and David Vallorani.
RMNB’s Chris Gordon was there to capture all the action. Check out his photos below the jump.