In a promising move for the Dundee Stars, the Elite League outfit have secured the services of American forward Johnny Walker.
The 26-year-old, who turned professional two seasons ago, arrives in Dundee with an impressive track record and determined to contribute to the success of his new team.
Walker’s most recent stint was with the Utah Grizzlies in the ECHL, where he notched 22 points (14 goals, eight assists) in 44 regular-season appearances.
Prior to entering the professional ranks, the dynamic forward showcased his prowess at the University of Arizona, where he tallied an impressive 123 points (70 goals, 53 assists) in 130 NCAA appearances.
With experience in both the North American Hockey League (NAHL) and the United States Hockey League (USHL), Walker honed his skills with the renowned Chicago Steel, a standout development program.
Stars head coach Marc LeFebvre expressed his enthusiasm for the new signing, commenting: “We are excited to have him, he is a very enthusiastic guy, and after speaking to him on the phone and doing my research on him, he is a great fit for our organization.
“He brings a bit of everything to our lineup. He has some skill, he plays with that attitude that we are kind of looking for in our roster.
“We want guys who will go into the trenches and battle for pucks, get into those scrums after whistles, and we want to be a tough team to play against and make those games hard for everybody.”
Walker added: “I am excited to be a Star, and I cannot wait to get out there and start playing some hockey. It is such a great opportunity, not only to play hockey but to get out and see the world and meet new people, as well as growing as a person and also as a hockey player.”
Analysis: Dundee Stars sign versatile forward Johnny Walker
Marc LeFebvre views Johnny Walker as a diamond in the rough and could barely hide his excitement upon the American’s arrival.
“It is probably the fastest signing I have ever made,” said the Canadian coach.
“I talked to him for about 15 minutes and about 10 minutes later, the agent called me and said let’s get it wrapped up, so it was a bit of a whirlwind but we are excited to have him.
“He is going to bring a lot of grit and sandpaper to our line-up and he is pretty tough too, he likes to drop the gloves but he also has a great skillset that is going to allow him to score goals. Johnny likes to be a pain in the ass in front of the net and we want those guys to go to the hard areas and make it tough on the opposing defensemen and goalies.”
In other words, the 6-foot-1 forward is expected to do it all in Dundee.
In the NCAA, Walker demonstrated his offensive ability by recording back-to-back seasons where he produced offence at a point-per-game rate.
In his final season in the ECHL, he underscored his enforcer credentials with 171 penalty minutes in 33 games played.
Walker will fall somewhere between rink rat and top scorer in Dundee.
“I want a team full of those kinds of guys, I would rather have a guy who I maybe have to put a leash on a little bit sometimes, who kind of walks that edge and sometimes crosses that line,” said LeFebvre.
“I would rather have them than some guys who I have to tap and tell them to get going, because I want guys who are energetic, ready to play every night and who bring something to the game.”
Added Walker: “It was my first offer and after speaking with Marc, I knew pretty much right away.
“When you google searched the city and the fact that Marc came back, it is obviously a great place to play, so as soon as I got off the phone with him, it was as quick as we could to sign the deal and get things going.
“He talked about being able to play your own game, taking care of the D-zone and working hard, which are my three favourite things. Also, he mentioned winning a championship and all I want to do is win, I love hockey and I love being a winner doing it, so like I keep saying I just cannot wait to get over there and start winning games.”
Walker will be a solid fit in Dundee.
How will Johnny Walker fare with the Dundee Stars? Join the conversation in the comments.