Thursday afternoon, the Washington Capitals announced their first re-signing of the 2017 offseason, inking minor-league forward Nathan Walker to a two-year, two-way contract. According to Mike Vogel, the deal will pay Walker $650,000 at the NHL level and $125,000 at the AHL level for each of the next two seasons. The contract guarantees Walker at least $150,000 in 2017-18 and at least $175,000 in 2018-19.
Walker, a feisty, net-crashing forward, scored 11 goals and 23 points in his fourth season with the Bears, which was a bit of a step back from his 17 goal, 41-point campaign a year before. Part of the reason for that was because Walker missed more than a month of hockey due to a broken hand.
Walker is trying to become the first Australian player ever to make the NHL. Earlier in the 2016-17 season, head coach Barry Trotz praised the 23-year-old and guaranteed the forward would someday get a chance in the best league in the world.
“He’s going to be a really great story when he plays in the National Hockey League,” Trotz said in October. “He’ll be the first Australian player who was born in Australia and really started training in Australia. And how he’s done it… I mean, he’ll be an inspiration to a lot of people.”
With 11 total free agents at the NHL level, Walker could push for a full-time roster spot on the team’s checking line.
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The Washington Capitals have re-signed left wing Nathan Walker to a two-year, two-way contract, senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan announced today.
Walker, 23, registered 23 points (11g, 12a) in 58 games with the Hershey Bears (AHL) during the 2016-17 season. The 5’9”, 185-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 in 2016-17 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. The Sydney, Australia, native was drafted by the Capitals in the third round, 89th overall, in the 2014 NHL Draft and became the first Australian player to be drafted in NHL history. Walker has earned 79 points (34g, 45a) in 202 career AHL games with Hershey.
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