The Capitals have a lengthy list of free agents to sort through this offseason. On Thursday they made their first move by re-signing prospect winger Nathan Walker to a two-year, two-way contract, the team announced.
According to team blogger Mike Vogel, Walker's contract is for $1.3 million with a cap hit of $650,000 per year.
Walker contract is $650K in NHL and $125K at AHL level both years, with $150K guaranteed in '17-18 and $175 guaranteed in '18-19. https://t.co/T4mGaAKBgl— Mike Vogel (@VogsCaps) June 1, 2017
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Walker, 23, scored 11 goals and 12 assists in 58 games for the Hershey Bears in 2016-17. He became the first Australian player to be drafted in NHL history in 2014 and is seeking to become the first Australian to suit up in the NHL. He may just have a chance.
With salary cap issues and a number of free agents expected to leave, Washington will likely have to bolster its lineup with prospects to fill in on the bottom six. Walker certainly seems to be a candidate for some time in the NHL this season.
In his end of season media availability, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan mentioned Walker specifically when asked about how much the team would depend on younger players.
"Walker has a good chance of playing," MacLellan said. "...These guys can all come up, and there's just going to be more opportunity for them to play this year."
One thing to keep in mind regarding Walker is that he is now eligible for waivers. If he makes the NHL roster out of camp, the Caps will have to expose him to waivers to re-assign him to Hershey, thus giving every team in the league a chance to claim him. Likewise, if he goes to Hershey, he would be exposed to waivers if the Caps sought to recall him. That will make this year's training camp incredibly important to the young Aussie's future this season.
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