Training Camp: Philly Feels Like Home for Walker
When Matt Walker was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers this summer, he was one of the few people associated with the Philadelphia area excited about his arrival.
You see, Matt Walker was what the Flyers got in exchange when they traded Simon Gagne to the Tampa Bay Lightning. They received a fourth round pick as well, but Walker is the only able body that can appear in a Flyers uniform at the moment.
Frank Seravalli, of the Daily News, has more on Walker’s beginnings as a Flyer today in both the print and online form of the paper. After reading Seravalli’s article, maybe there’s reason to give Walker a chance with the Flyers. First and foremost, Seravalli compares Walker to the “defensive version of Ian Laperriere”. Is he even allowed to do that? With the soft spot that all Flyers fans now have with Lappy, being compared to #14 means that Walker now has a lot to live up to.
Still, Seravalli points out that in coming to Philadelphia, Matt Walker feels like he is coming home. The 6’2” 230+ pound defenseman who makes a living blocking shots as opposed to taking them told the Flyers beat writer, “I’ve been watching them [the Flyers] ever since I was a kid. [Tough hockey] has always been their reputation, so I’ve always had a little bit of a soft spot for them.” Walker goes on to say that he was “pretty excited” when he found out he had been traded to the Flyers in the off-season.
While Walker is excited to be here, it’s hard for me to believe he’s going to be playing all that much once this season moves from the “Pre” variety. The Flyers have a solid set of six proven and skilled defensemen in Chris Pronger, Sean O’Donnell, Braydon Coburn, Kimmo Timonen, Matt Carle, and Andrej Meszaros. After that, Walker and Oskars Bartulis are left to compete for the 7th and 8th slots, which actually aren’t as much slots as they are seats in the press box. Still, Walker is a cap hit of over a million dollars this season, so it’s difficult to fathom that the Flyers would dump that salary to the Adirondacks and have him play for the Phantoms.
Depth, especially defensively, is always a good thing. But it’s hard for me to believe that Walker will be among the top six for the Flyers on the blue-line if the aforementioned six defensemen are all healthy. With that being said, if Chris Pronger’s knee doesn’t heal as well as he and the Flyers would have liked come time for the season opener, it’s a safe bet Walker will be his replacement in Pittsburgh on October 7th.
You can check out Seravalli’s entire piece here: WALKER FEELING RIGHT AT HOME WITH FLYERS’ DEFENSIVE CORPS