While the Capitals (and their fan) base were hoping that popular left wing Nathan Walker would go unclaimed on waivers, the likelihood of him clearing and being sent to Hershey was unlikely. And after losing Walker on waivers to the Edmonton Oilers, the Capitals have no one to blame but themselves.
While the Capitals have lost many prospects on the waiver wire in the past, the loss of Walker hurts them both in the short and long-term. After losing a number of top-six forwards over the summer to free agency and trades, the Capitals’ forward depth was less deep than it has been in recent seasons.
While many believed Walker was the most NHL-ready prospect in the organization, the Capitals only dressed Walker in seven games this season, including his historic debut, despite the feisty forward making the team out of training camp.
Losing Walker, of course, weakens the Caps’ forward depth and with few obvious potential call-ups in Hershey, the Capitals can only blame themselves for losing the promising young forward.
Head Coach Barry Trotz has used offseason additions Alex Chiasson and Tyler Graovac in place of Walker many times this season, and while it’s unlikely the team knew that prior to the season, the fact Walker was used sparingly during his brief NHL career with the Caps proves the team felt that Walker needed to work on his game.
The smart decision would have been to send Walker down to Hershey to begin the season instead of keeping him on the roster and eventually being forced to attempt to pass him through waivers, which is what they ended up doing, and ultimately, losing one of their most promising forward prospects to another team.
How the Capitals deal with this loss going forward will be crucial, as it is unlikely the team will make the same mistake again. As mentioned above, there aren’t any obvious replacements in Hershey at the moment aside from players such as Riley Barber or perhaps Travis Boyd. It will be interesting to see how the Caps replace one of their most promising prospects and perhaps even more intriguing, how Walker progresses in Edmonton.
By Michael Fleetwood