With the NHL’s roster freeze expiring at midnight and Chandler Stephenson apparently over the flu, the Capitals have assigned Nathan Walker to the Hershey Bears. This news came just two hours after the team’s optional skate. Walker was one of those players participating in the skate as a precaution on Stephenson’s status for tonight’s Capitals game against the Boston Bruins.
Last week, the Capitals re-acquired Walker off of waivers from Edmonton. Walker previously was picked up by Edmonton after the Capitals placed him on waivers at the beginning of December. Walker reported directly to the Capitals but served as a healthy scratch in their last three games. This move ensures that Walker will get more playing time and further develop his game. The Bears play the Springfield Thunderbirds on Friday night before returning to Chocolatetown on Saturday night to take on the Scranton/Wilkes’Barre Penguins.
FROM THE CAPITALS MEDIA RELEASE
The Washington Capitals have assigned forward Nathan Walker to the Hershey Bears (AHL), senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan announced today.
The Sydney, Australia, native became the first Australian-national to play in the NHL on Oct. 7 versus the Montreal Canadiens. Walker scored his first NHL goal in his NHL debut and played in seven games for the Capitals this season. Additionally, Walker appeared in two games for the Edmonton Oilers.
Walker registered 23 points (11g, 12a) in 58 games with the Hershey Bears (AHL) during the 2016-17 season. The 5’9″, 186-pound left wing ranked eighth among Bears skaters in plus/minus (+11) and tied for ninth in goals. In addition, Walker set a career high with two game-winning goals and tied his career high in multi-goal games (2). During the 2015-16 season, Walker registered 41 points (17g, 24a) in 73 games, setting career highs in points, goals, assists and games played. He finished the season ranked third on the team in plus/minus (+20), fourth in goals and points, fifth in games played and sixth in assists. Walker was also named Hershey’s 2016 Man of the Year, Unsung Hero and Most Improved Player. Walker earned 79 points (34g, 45a) in 202 career AHL games with Hershey.
Walker, 23, holds the distinction of being the first Australian drafted to the NHL after Washington selected him in the third round,89th overall, in the 2014 NHL Draft. Walker played junior-level hockey in the Czech Republic, participating in 213 games in the Czech League’s Vitkovice program. Additionally, Walker appeared in 29 games in the USHL with the Youngstown Phantoms and recorded 27 points (7g, 20a) in the 2012-13 season. In the year prior to the 2014 draft, Walker registered 11 points (five goals, six assists) and 40 penalty minutes in 43 games with the Bears. Walker represented Australia at the 2011 IIHF World Championship Division II tournament and at the 2012 World Championship Division 1 Group B tournament.
By Michael Marzzacco