NEWARK, N.J. – At the moment, the Flyers’ defense situation is a bit like the old wild, wild west. There aren’t a lot of sure things, especially after the departure of three proven veterans.
That means there are jobs available and one of the darkhorse candidates might be Sean Walker, acquired from the Los Angeles Kings in the Ivan Provorov trade.
Walker was in the lineup on Monday night when the Flyers opened their preseason schedule with a game against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center.
The noteworthy thing about that is he was paired with Cam York, considered perhaps the brightest defense prospect on the roster. Flyers coaches and management want to give Walker a good look to see if the five-year NHL veteran can fit into the team’s plans.
“You want to show what you can do out there,” Walker said after the morning skate at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, N.J. “Exhibition games are coming up and there’s a lot at stake for a lot of guys. So that’s what I’m looking forward to.”
Walker is a right-handed shot and that could also be a factor on whether he makes the roster. Two righties – Tony DeAngelo (traded) and Justin Braun (retired) — are no longer on the roster.
The trade didn’t exactly catch Walker offguard. There were signs that the California team might consider him expendable.
“I wouldn’t say I was surprised,” said the 28-year-old native of Keswick, Ontario, Canada. “I saw the direction they were going. (One day) I got home from the gym, somebody started texting me and said there was some stuff on Twitter (now X).
“Later I got a call from my agent. The trade came right after that. It is what it is. It’s a business and I was lucky enough to be there for six full years. I was really fortunate.”
He’s picked up 16 goals and 51 assists in 232 NHL games so there shouldn’t be too much of a break-in period if he winds up in the starting lineup for opening night at Columbus on Oct. 12.
But he’s not expecting anything to be handed to him.
“You have to go out and earn it,” said Walker, who stands 5-foot-11, 195 pounds. “I know my abilities. I just have to make sure it shows on the ice and that I deserve a solid spot in the lineup every night. Just do what I can.”
On occasion, Walker had played top minutes while with the Kings. He’s hoping for a similar role here. And, to be honest, the Flyers wanted him included as part of the trade, so he has that working in his favor.
“I think I have the ability to defend against the other team’s top-end players,” he said. “I want to be a guy who is playing those top minutes, top-four ice time. I think people know I can chip in offensively. So you know, I think it starts in the D-zone, be solid there and then make the right plays and jump up when I can to contribute offensively.”