There are few people in the world who could claim to have had as good a year as Alex Ovechkin.
Ovechkin, of course, led the Washington Capitals to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup, he won both the Rocket Richard Trophy for the most goals in the league and the Conn Smythe as the playoff MVP and then became a father with the birth of his son, Sergei, in August.
As good as that is, however, the year Nathan Walker has had comes really close to matching it.
“It’s been crazy,” Walker said Tuesday following an informal skate at MedStar Iceplex.
“Everything from playing the first game, the first goal, to being able to lift that trophy over your head and then getting married, it’s definitely been a fun-filled year.”
Since the start of the 2017-18 season, Walker became the first Australian to play in the NHL, scored a goal in his NHL debut, became a Stanley Cup champion and got married over the summer.
But now he wants to build on that year.
Walker, 24, got only a taste of the NHL last season with nine games, two of which came with the Edmonton Oilers. He also played in one postseason game for Washington, Game 6 in Pittsburgh in which the Capitals finally exorcised their playoff demons and defeated the Penguins.
It’s that game that gives Walker confidence as training camp approaches.
Walker was inserted into the lineup of an injury-depleted Capitals team and was able to record an assist on Alex Chiasson’s goal, Washington’s lone goal in regulation. On the road in an elimination against the two-time defending champions, Walker came up huge and did not look out of place or overmatched.
“I think with that game I played, I showed that I can play in the league,” Walker said. “I can keep up with the players here and hopefully I can just build off from that and just have a good camp and go from there.”
With the Caps returning largely the same roster from last season, there are not many open spots available for players like Walker to crack the lineup.
A new season and a new head coach and a new season, however, could mean a new opportunity for the feisty Australian forward to build off of what has been an incredible year.
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