With the 2012 NHL Entry Draft on this Saturday (10am AEST), the focus is naturally on who will go in the top 10. Will teen sensation Nail Yakupov be the first Russian to get picked first overall since the Great Eight? Will Russian-American Galchenyuk go early despite his severely-limited season? Will the younger Subban rise?
To Aussie fans though, this weekend may turn out to be something particularly special.
Walker is part of the HC Vitkovice system the Czech Extraliga – the first Australian to play professionally in Europe – and made a splash when he scored against Team Canada in the 2011 Spengler Cup. He was also part of the national team in the 2011 World Championship that elevated Australia into IIHF Group 1.
The left-winger started off as an inline player, before making the big move to the Czech Republic to chase his dreams at the tender age of 13. Hockey Prospectus describes him as a two-way forward who is fearless and willing to drive into the tough areas (does his profile remind anyone else of Jannick Hansen?).
Although unlikely to be drafted in the first round, Aussie NHL fans will well and truly have their eyes on Walker on Sunday (Australian time) when Rounds 2-7 will be conducted in Pittsburgh. He has been interviewed by Toronto, Nashville, Philadelphia, Washington and San Jose; of course, this doesn’t give any real indication on what will transpire.
Many have tipped Walker to be picked up in the later rounds this weekend. This draft class, however, is not particularly deep, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see his name on the board as early as the 3rd round.
Do you think Nathan will be drafted? If so, when? And by whom?
My tip: Round 6, San Jose…with the only reason being that Sharks GM Doug Wilson seems to be the most open about players from unconventional markets (the San Jose organisation now has an affiliation to a team in China, and is working to establish a similar tie with the Melbourne Ice).