Last weekend saw the hopes of a nation resting on the shoulders of Nathan Walker at the NHL draft. While Walker wasn’t picked up there are positives of this result. Xavier Player takes a closer look.
Opportunity to repeat his high scoring – Walker has put some great statistics on the board during his time in the Czech Republic. The determination he will feel from not being drafted is likely to lead to an increased level of fire power in his playing style, so if the past is any indication we can expect Walker to surpass his 30 point mark from last season in 2012-13.
Less public expectation – If Nathan Walker had have been drafted there was one certainty. The Australian media and hockey public would have had a field day, which would have put Walker under great public scrutiny, which in turn would lead to increased expectation. The opportunity to spend another year in Europe means that while the progress of Walker will be monitored as closely as ever, he isn’t going to face the lingering “why isn’t he in the NHL yet?” question from those who do not understand how the hockey pyramid works. This lack of pressure means that comes next June, should he choose to return to the draft he is going to return a better player.
Increase his physicality – A common theme among drafted teenagers is how they can increase their physical presence on the ice. Given the small stature of Walker this is something that is vital in him making the next step in his career. Spending extra time in the gym over the summer will add another facet to his game, which could see him receive the ultimate reward.
Potential to move up the board next year – This isn’t just limited to those who go undrafted. While it is unheard of for someone drafted in the AFL to turn down an offer, it is common place in America, with players often moving up the board in the years to come. Obviously if Walker is to be drafted then he will have moved up the board, but the extra year of playing experience could see him go higher than he was predicted to at any point in the draft just gone. A rise in the board would not only mean a greater signing bonus for the youngster, but also that the organisation who sign him see a greater long term potential in him than their lower picks. This means the odds of him making his NHL debut would be greatly increased.
Attending Washington Capitals development camp – News broke yesterday that Walker would attend the Capitals development camp. This gives him exposure to NHL coaches, which means that he is going to be able to get feedback from NHL level coaches before he returns to Europe for another season. Not only will the camp bring him extra knowledge but if he performs well it is a great opportunity to stick inside the minds of Capitals officials before the draft next year.
By Xavier Player
[twitter-follow username=”XPSports” scheme=”dark”]
[twitter-follow username=”hewittsports” scheme=”dark”]