With the 2012 NHL Entry Draft just the around the corner, it has added emphasis for Australians this time around. Our very own Nathan Walker has the opportunity to be the first ever Australian drafted into the NHL since Darren Gani was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in 1984, ranked the 25th best European skater by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau, it’s no wonder the people of Australia are excited.
Nathan Walker was born in Wales, traveled to Australia with his parents at the young age of 2 years old. Where his initial love wasn’t for the cold ice rinks of Australia, but following in his fathers footsteps as he tried to pursue a career in the sport of rugby league.
This is something i also found rather stagering about the whole situation he finds himself in now, it’s the sheer fact that he played rugby league at a young age for the Cronulla Sharks & only truly focused on hockey later in life. And now he finds himself embarking on a career in one of the worlds biggest competitions, the NHL.
Like most Australian hockey fans i find myself excited with the thought of Walker being drafted into the NHL, and it’s not just the fact that it could be a landmark moment for Nathan, but it could also prove to be a landmark moment for Ice Hockey Australia & the entire AIHL organisation.
If the drafting does occur, news will immediately filter back from the states & fill up all the radio, newspapers & TV coverage throughout the nation. Is that putting too much pressure on the kid? Possibly.
But i think the description of Australia’s Wayne Gretzky holds a heavier tag, as The Telegraph described Nathan Walker set to be first Australian to break into the NHL.
Walker moved to Europe in search of hockey, joining HC Vítkovice Steel U18 team, with things moving along nicely in the Extraliga U18 competition. The first major news Nathan made overseas was at junior level in the Czech Republic, he was able to score 6 goals in a match & things kept getting better as he made his way into the Vítkovice U20 squad.
Since then Walker has represented Australia & helped them win promotion to the IIHF Championship Division 1 back in 2011, he also represented HC Vítkovice Steel in the 2011 Spengler Cup. There he went on to make more headlines as he became the youngest player to score in Spengler Cup history, something which just added to the list of impressive honours he has personally accomplished so early in his career.
He had a short stint in the AIHL with the Sydney Ice Dogs before heading back over to the Czech Republic, and even though we don’t get to see Nathan in the flesh a whole lot, the Australian ice hockey community is very proud of Stormy.
His short stature is something which was always going to be a draw back when NHL clubs looked at Walker, but as Vítkovice captain Jiří Burger said last year, he makes up for his size in other areas “Sure, Nathan is on the small side, but he makes up for it with great skating.”
Talk about Nathan is now world wide, with major hockey forums like HF Boards also spreading the Walker name.
We can only wish that another thing to add to the list of his hockey honours is being drafted by an NHL club this year, from there, things are in Walkers hands & he can skate as far as he wants with it.
Not only will millions across North America be tuning into the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, but a whole country down under, i hope gets on board & supports one of our most talented young athletes.
At the age of 18 years Walker could be a perfect poster boy to carry the sport in this country into the next decade, so find a TV set, tune in on June 23-24 & celebrate what could be a great moment in Australia’s sporting history.
Will you be watching?