When I first wrote about Nathan Walker, the first Australian with a shot at the NHL...
Nathan Walker is a 5'9" 176 lb forward from Sydney, Australia. At 5'9", Walker is small, but he's got the speed to play in any league. Most people have been denied a chance to see Walker play internationally, where he's competed in the B division of the World Juniors and scored 4 goals in 4 games.
Like Hari, Walker left home to pursue a hockey career and better himself. He left Sydney for the Czech Republic and joined the HC Vitkovice system. He's been better than a point per game player during his time in the Czech Junior Leagues, including 18 points in 10 games in the Under 20 league this season. His performance earned him a promotion to Vitkovice's Extraliga team.
...he still looked like a longshot to make the NHL, let alone hear his name called at the NHL Draft in June.
My how things have changed. Last week, HC Vitkovice, Walker's new club, took part in the Spengler Cup, the annual professional tournament held in and hosted by Davos.
This year's edition featured Davos, Vitkovice, Team Canada, Dinamo Riga, Kloten, and Wolfsburg.
Vitkovice participated in a round robin group consisting of Team Canada and Davos. In two pool games, Walker scored a goal and assisted on another. In the medal round semi-finals match against Davos, Walker scored yet again.
Walker scored two goals and added an assist in Vitkovice's four tournament games. While the Spengler Cup isn't NHL hockey, or even KHL hockey, it is the best competition Spengler has faced to date. If NHL scouts weren't aware of Walker before, they are now.
One observer who has been on top of Walker's ascent is Corey Pronman from Hockey Prospectus. I mentioned here that Pronmon has Walker ranked 90th. I misunderstood Pronmon's take on Walker -- he doesn't have him ranked 90th, he has him in the top 90 for the 2012 draft, and believes he may end up somewhere in high 60s. Pronmon is the first, and only to my knowledge, draft guru to rank Walker in the top 100, let alone rank him as someone who may shove his way into the second round.
Walker has four goals and three assists for HC Vitkovice in the Czech Extraliga.