When the Philadelphia Flyers traded Ivan Provorov away, one of the pieces that came back was defender Sean Walker from the Los Angeles Kings. Like myself, most Flyers fans said, “Who?” To be fair, we don’t see the Western Conference players as much as we do our rivals here in the East; especially if they are on a team that has not made many headlines lately, like the Kings. So, many of us were unfamiliar with Walker. Who is he and what does he bring to the Flyers?
First of all, he wasn’t drafted by the Kings – or anyone for that matter. He played in the junior leagues in Ontario. While there, he committed to play hockey for Bowling Green State University. Bowling Green is a fine school, but it is not Boston College, Michigan or Boston University when it comes to hockey. In his junior and senior years, he captained the team. When Walker graduated, he signed as an undrafted free agent with the Ontario Reign, the AHL affiliate of the Kings.
He’s had a steady, if not remarkable career in Los Angeles. His best season was in 2019-20 when he scored five goals with 19 assists. With the COVID-shortened season the year following, he again scored five goals and recorded 13 assists while playing in just 47 games. While these numbers don’t jump off the page, they aren’t bad for a second or third blueliner averaging 18 minutes a game.
The he got hurt. He got hurt really badly. The new Flyers defender suffered an ACL and MCL tear in 2021-22 that limited him to just six games and effectively ended his season.
He came back last year, but lost a step. Because of the tender nature of Walker’s injury, the Kings found him to be expendable and traded him to the Flyers. Walker is on the final year of a four-year extension he signed with the Kings and will earn $2.65 million this season. This year is a chance to prove himself and show that he still belongs in the NHL.
Philadelphia likes an underdog story. After all, we are obsessed – just a bit – with Rocky. Walker embodies that. He was undrafted, signed to an AHL contract with little expectations, and rose to the challenge. A severe injury derailed his promising career, but he has shown enough grit and determination to make it this far. A guy like that deserves a chance to see what he can show. If he still has passion for this game, it will come out. And if he still has anything left in him, the Flyers will surely benefit from it.