Nathan Walker is now an Edmonton Oiler.
The 23-year-old, high-energy left wing was placed on waivers by the Capitals on Thursday with the intent of sending him to Hershey of the AHL.
Walker, though, did not make it through the waiver process. And, as a result, he’ll join the Oilers’ NHL roster, per CBA rules. In a corresponding move, Edmonton waived winger Iiro Pakarinen.
“A little bit, but not really,” Caps Coach Barry Trotz saidFriday, asked if he was surprised Edmonton put in a claim. “Walks is not, right now, in our top 14 [forwards]. So he needs to play.”
Trotz added: “Hopefully he gets a consistent opportunity in Edmonton. If he does and he makes it, that’s fantastic. If he doesn’t, then we have an opportunity to reclaim him. That’s what waivers are there for.”
Walker had a strong training camp, made the Capitals’ opening night roster and became the first Australian to suit up for an NHL game on Oct. 7, Washington’s home opener vs. Montreal. But he was unable to gain a foothold in Barry Trotz’s lineup.
Walker, who is generously listed at 5 foot 9, appeared in just seven games for the Capitals this season, and only one game in the last three weeks as Chandler Stephenson and others surpassed him on the depth chart.
During his short stint here, Walker was used exclusively as a fourth liner, skating on average just 9:12 per game and seeing only scant shorthanded duty. He registered one point—a goal that deflected in off his body against the Canadiens—four penalty minutes and four shots on goal.
“Anybody knows Walks, he’s a terrific young man,” Trotz said. “But he needs to play. He needs to develop; his game is not there yet. He has to continue to develop, and you can’t do it not playing.”