The United States Hockey League has announced that Australian-raised Nathan Walker of the Youngstown Phantoms will replace teammate Austin Cangelosi at the 2013 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game presented by CCM slated Wednesday at the L.C. Walker Arena in Muskegon, Michigan.
Walker, who is in his second year of draft eligibility, was born in Wales, but his family moved to Sydney when he was two years old. He would eventually perfect his craft in Ostrava, Czech Republic. He spent six years there, playing for several clubs among men.
He actually drew attention from American scouts in the senior ranks of the Czech Republic league as a 16-year-old playing for HC Vitkovice Steel in Ostrava.
Walker was listed No. 25 on NHL Central Scouting's final European rankings prior to the 2012 NHL Draft. In four games with the Phantoms this season, Walker has two goals and six points to lead Youngstown to a 4-0-0 mark over that stretch. He was not ranked on Central Scouting's midterm list released earlier this month.
"Walker is a great skater and works hard on every shift," Goran Stubb, NHL Director of European Scouting, told NHL.com.
If Walker is drafted this June, the 18-year-old wing would become the first Australian to be selected into the NHL.
Despite his 5-foot-10, 180-pound frame, Walker has earned the nickname "Stormy" for his aggressive and relentless puck pursuit each shift.
Cangelosi, who will not participate due to an illness, leads the Phantoms with 35 points this season. The Boston College recruit has scored 10 goals, including two shorthanded, and sports a plus-10 rating. Cangelosi, compared by some to a young Brian Gionta, is already Youngstown's all-time leading scorer with 94 points (39 goals, 55 assists) in 83 games.