Washington Capitals prospect Nathan Walker is aiming to make history by becoming the first Australian player to reach the NHL.
"All my friends back home, the hockey community there, they're all rooting for me." Walker told CSN Mid-Atlantic on Thursday. "Every time I go home, they keep asking me when that first [NHL] game is gonna happen. It's a really close hockey community back home, so it'd be pretty big."
Walker, a forward, was a third-round pick (No. 89) by the Capitals at the 2014 NHL Draft. At 5-foot-8, 186 pounds, he is a natural left wing but spent some time playing center with Hershey of the American Hockey League last season. He had 17 goals, 24 assists and a plus-20 rating in 73 regular-season games, and two goals and three assists in 20 AHL playoff games.
One of his two goals in the playoffs was a game-winner that sent Hershey to the Calder Cup Final, where it lost to Lake Erie.
"I think that's one of the biggest attributes in my game, is my speed," Walker said. "I like to be a so-called pest out there and try to get under guys' skins and do my job that way and chip in [offensively] every now and then I guess when I can."
He's already the first Australian to be selected in the NHL Draft. Next up is an opportunity to make more history and make the Capitals roster out of training camp.
"That's definitely the goal I have set in mind," Walker said. "I'm just [going to] come to camp, try to be the best shape I've ever been in and work hard and just take it day by day there."