Getting to Know… Nathan Walker

Posted February 10, 2019

(Caps Outsider)

The loveable Aussie who has played for both the Hershey Bears in the AHL and the Washington Capitals (including being a part of the Stanley Cup-winning roster) has made a name for himself since being drafted by the Capitals organization in the 2014 NHL entry level draft. So just how did a young hockey enthusiast from Sydney end up taking to the ice on the world’s biggest stage? It all started like many young players in Australia by watching everyone’s favourite hockey larrikins….the Mighty Ducks.

Walker began playing hockey at the age of six and took to the game at a rapid pace. In 2007, he took his game overseas, being picked up by Czech club HC Vitkovice. Playing between their U18 team as well as playing back home for the Sydney Ice Dogs in the Australian Ice Hockey League, Walker soon found himself in the senior team for HC Vitkovice before North American hockey beckoned.

Walker was signed by the Youngstown Phantoms of the United States Hockey League during Season 2012-13, where he played 29 games before missing the playoffs due to injury. That year proved to be pivotal for the Australian prospect as he continued his training between Australia and the Czech Republic before being invited to attend the Washington Capitals development camp in September that year. After a solid camp, Walker became the first Australian to enter the American Hockey League and found a home with the Capitals’ AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears. Walker played four seasons with the Bears, recording a total of 202 games with thirty four goals in the process. In 2014, Walker was on the NHL radar after being selected by the Capitals in the NHL entry level draft in the third round at 89th overall.

After several challenges with injury and continuing to play in Hershey, Walker was back with the Capitals for the 2017 training camp. After a gruelling and lengthy camp with fast-paced hockey and strict roster cuts, history was made as Walker was named to the Capitals roster, making him the first Australian to enter the NHL. Walker debuted on the 7th October 2017 against the Montreal Canadiens, scoring in his debut in what proved to be a special night for Australian sport. Walker played seven games for the Capitals over the following months but soon found himself on waivers. He was snapped up by the Edmonton Oilers in December 2017 and soon found himself north of the border.

In what proved to be a remarkable series of events, Walker played two games for the Oilers before being placed on waivers once again and being reclaimed by the Capitals and assigned to Hershey. This gave him the tag ‘the boomerang’ (a traditional indigenous Australian weapon which returns to its owner). Walker continued to etch his achievement into the history books, recording an assist in a playoff game against the Penguins and raising the Stanley Cup as part of the extended roster in 2018.

Currently, Walker is recording some impressive numbers as part of the active roster in Hershey and is a fan favourite, known for his speed and grit. In 31 games in Season 2018/19, Walker has tallied 11 goals and 8 assists and is certainly one the Capitals will be keeping an eye on when it comes to depth and determination.