YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Youngstown Phantoms have added forward Nathan Walker to their roster, head coach and general manager Anthony Noreen announced today.
A native of Sidney, Australia, Walker has spent the past six years playing in the Czech Republic with HC Vitkovice of the Czech Extraliga. The 18-year-old has split time this season and last with the Vitkovice senior team, registering four goals, six assists and 10 points over 54 games; and the under-20 team, where he racked up 26-18-44 in 27 games.
“Nathan is a player that we hope can help us out with some scoring, but he’s also good skater and has a high compete level, and that’s where everything starts with us,” Noreen said. “He’s a guy who’s been playing with and against men this season and last, and we’re hoping that brings some veteran experience to our locker room as well.”
Walker has garnered the attention of NHL scouts with his play for Vitkovice over the past season and a half, including standout performances at the Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound winger led Vitkovice to back-to-back semifinal berths in the tournament and scored the lone goal for the Czech team against Team Canada in 2011.
Walker was ranked the No. 25 European Skater on NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings ahead of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, and Cardiff, Whales-born player is considered a top prospect for this year’s draft as well.
“It is a testament to the USHL and our program here in Youngstown that a player of Nathan’s caliber wanted to come over from another league, and another country, to further his development,” Noreen said.
Assistant general manager and director of player personnel Jason Koehler thanked Walker’s previous club and advisor for facilitating the move mid-season.
“There are numerous moving parts in a deal like this, and I would like to personally thank the entire HC Vitkovice organization for their support throughout the process,” Koehler said. “Additionally, I would like to thank Nathan’s advisor for his diligent work behind the scenes in securing his transfer. Without their combined efforts, this could not have happened.”
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)