Nathan Walker, the first Australian selected in the NHL draft and a mini-celebrity back home, has signed a three-year, entry-level deal with the Washington Capitals, the team announced Friday.
His base salary, excluding bonuses, will be $575,000 at the NHL level and $70,000 for the AHL level, according to the team.
Several weeks after his third development camp in Washington, Walker officially became a member of the organization following a triumphant spring that saw the Capitals trade up into the third round to select him, a solid camp showing and a hero’s welcome in Sydney, featuring the country’s Minister for Sport and Recreation.
Walker attended Washington’s training camp last season and appeared in preseason games, but due to a contract issue was forced into an AHL-only deal with Hershey, where he scored five goals and dished six assists over 43 games.
“He’s obviously ahead of some of the other players we drafted today because he has been playing with men,” assistant general manager Ross Mahoney said on draft day. “We’ve had him at our camps, we’ve had him play rookie games and exhibition games, which he played very well in all of those.”
Walker, a native of Wales who spent his early childhood in Australia, was also recently named as a special selection to Team USA for the International Hockey Series game against Canada in Sydney on July 26.
His signing means the Capitals have inked entry-level deals with their first three picks. Czech forward Jakub Vrana and goaltender Vitek Vanecek both signed early last week.
For more on Walker’s journey — including his introduction to hockey with “The Mighty Ducks,” questions about pet kangaroos and leaving home for the Czech Republic at age 13 — here’s a blog feature from development camp. Given that the Capitals traded up to pick him in the third round, it seemed a certainty he would sign an entry-level deal this month, with the opportunity to log some NHL ice time squarely in his future.
Teammate Garrett Mitchell was enthused.
— Garrett Mitchell (@Mitchy1_0) July 25, 2014