Continuing their trend today of picking overagers in the draft, the Toronto Maple Leafs picked Jack Walker, a left winger/defense from the WHL's Victoria Royals.
In his fourth year in the WHL, the Edina, Minnesota native scored 36 goals, 48 assists (84pts) in 72 games for the Royals. Walker isn't as big as some of these draft picks, he stands 5'11" and is under 200lbs.
Perhaps hoping for a Brent Burns of their own, Walker has played both left wing and defense in his WHL career and has transitioned between the two positions with ease, from the Victoria Times Colonist:
Walker has come full circle. He was originally recruited by the Royals as a 16-year-old defenceman in 2012-13 but was switched to forward after 20 games in that rookie season, finishing with nine goals and 22 points in 58 contests. Last season, in which Walker was limited to 48 regular-season games because of mononucleosis, was spent totally as a forward with seven goals and 15 points. Walker phoned Cam Hope in the off-season informing the Victoria GM of his desire to move back to the blueline. The Royals GM agreed to the move.
"I realize I have to prove myself back there," said Walker.
On the smaller side and listed between five-foot-nine and five-foot-11, Walker hit the gym over the summer and has been skating between 170 to 175 pounds after playing last season at about 160.
"I make up for lack of size with speed," said Walker. The move gives the Royals three offensive, puck-moving blueliners alongside Joe Hicketts and Travis Brown. Walker was paired with Ryan Gagnon for most of the first three exhibition games last weekend and also saw some time with Jake Kohlhauser. The Walker-Gagnon pairing could be an effective one this season with each complementing the other.
Some highlights for Walker: