Australian hockey is set to make a mark on the NHL draft.
I've been following the story of Nathan Walker, the Australian plying his trade in the Czech Extraliga. Walker had a standout performance at the Spengler Cup, scoring twice and adding an assist in HC Vitkovice's four-game tournament. Walker's performance has opened some eyes in the scouting world.
NHL De-centralized Scouting released their mid-term rankings this week, and Walker had moved into a prime draft position. He's ranked 21st in Europe and second amongst players in the Czech Republic. Walker was ranked seventh in the Czech Republic in D-cSB's preliminary rankings, so this is a significant move, from undrafted to mid-round territory.
Recent history from 21st-ranked European skaters strongly suggests that Walker, should he maintain or improve his position, will be selected on the second day of the 2012 NHL Draft.
|Year||21st-ranked Skater||Drafted||Drafted By:|
|2011||William Karlsson||53||Anaheim Ducks|
|2010||Petter Granberg||116||Toronto Maple Leafs|
|2009||Alexander Urbom||73||New Jersey Devils|
|2008||Tomas Kubalik||135||Columbus Blue Jackets|
The 5'9" 185 lb. left wing will be the first Australian ever drafted by an NHL team. Next up for Walker: become the first Australian ever to play in the NHL.
As an Oilers fan, I'd love to see the Oilers draft Walker. The sheer volume of Australian jokes, puns and wordplay available to Gene Principe during Sportsnet broadcasts would keep him busy for years.
Corey Pronman from Hockey Prospectus deserves credit on this one. I mentioned previously that Pronman thought Walker could be targeted anywhere from the bottom of the second to the bottom of the third round and was the first scout/observer to publicly talk about Walker's draft slot at that level. D-cSB's move suggests they see Walker in the same general slotting.