Nathan Walker has taken another step forward in his journey to make the NHL from the unusual starting point of Australia. The Washington Capitals have signed him to a three-year, entry-level contract, per the Monumental Network.
The 20-year-old forward became the first Australian ever drafted when Washington took him with the 89th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Setting him apart further is the fact that he already had AHL experience before he was ever drafted.
Walker joined the Capitals’ AHL affiliates, the Hershey Bears, for the 2013-14 campaign and had five goals and 11 points in 43 games. In addition to playing for their AHL team, Walker was already well known within the Capitals organization as he had been attending their development camps and participated in their 2013 training camp.
In order to make sure he remained part of the organization, the Capitals sent the 104th and 118th picks to the New York Rangers in exchange for the third-round selection.
“He might have [been available later], but once again you take a chance he’s not going to be there,” assistant GM Ross Mahoney said told the Washington Post. “We’d rather do what we have to do in order to move up and make sure we get the player we want rather than sit back and hope that player’s still there.”
Walker found out about hockey when he was around four by watching “The Mighty Ducks” film and left for the Czech Republic at 13 where he lived with a host family so that he could pursue his dream.