Nathan Walker comes from the land Down Under, where rugby reigns and hockey – well, almost no one plays it.
In about five weeks the 19-year-old Australian left wing will participate in the Capitals’ rookie camp. Although a complete roster has not yet been released, NHL.com confirmed Walker’s invitation.
Walker’s invite is noteworthy because no Australian has ever played in the NHL. Heck, no Australian has ever even been drafted by an NHL club.
Walker hoped to be the first, but he’s been passed over twice. Still, he must have been on the Caps’ radar and his quick development is a big reason.
The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder was born in Wales and moved to Sydney when he was 2. At 13, he was so good at playing hockey his family moved to the CzechRepublic to allow him to play professionally.
By the age of 14 Walker was playing with 20-year-olds without looking out of place. Midway through last season he made the journey to North America, where he played for the Youngstown [Ohio] Phantoms of the USHL.
In 29 games for the Phantoms, where he was teammates with Potomac’s Sam Anas, Walker recorded seven goals and 20 assists. That was enough to earn him a longer look by the Caps in early September, when he hopes to impress them enough to earn a pro contract and perhaps an invitation to training camp.