Is Nathan Walker Ready for the NHL?

Posted August 21, 2017

(via Scott Payonk)

Training camp is less than a month away and the Caps have some spots up for grab that will most likely be taken by Hershey players from last season. One of those players could easily be the 23-year old Australian winger Nathan Walker.

Walker was drafted in the third round, 89th overall by Washington in 2014. Walker spent one year in Hershey when he came over from Europe before being drafted by the Caps. While in Hershey, Walker has put up great numbers while healthy. He broke out in 2015-16 when he recorded 41 points in 73 games (+20), and then another five points in 20 playoff games.

Last season, Walker shined once more. He was about to be called up by the Caps before he broke his hand blocking a shot. Despite missing significant time, Walker was still able to put up 23 points in 58 games and was a +11. Walker also picked up six points in 12 playoff games.

Walker has great advanced stats too. (Primary point is a goal or the primary assist)

In other words, Walker was scoring better than 89% of all the forwards in the AHL. Walker was playing with not so great teammates and faced a decent quality of opponents while on the ice.

Said Troy Mann, head coach of the Hershey Bears, at development camp: “I think Walker is as close to anybody. He plays the game the right way. He’s a 200 foot player. He gets in on the forecheck [too].” Mann also completed his stick work.

Mann also said that he would like to see Walker slide into the spot Daniel Winnik played in last year. If he does make the lineup, it’ll likely be on the 4th line with Devante Smith-Pelly on the opposite wing and Jay Beagle in the middle. Walker can also soak up penalty killing minutes as well.

The Caps are looking to get younger and faster, and Walker fits this description perfectly. If Walker does crack the Caps roster, he will eclipse the barrier and be the first Australian to play in the NHL.