Should the St. Louis Blues give Nathan Walker a stronger opportunity to play?

Nathan Walker has played sparingly in the NHL, mainly for the St. Louis Blues. He's never suited up for the Blues for a complete season; has he earned that right?
New York Islanders v St Louis Blues
New York Islanders v St Louis Blues / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages

Nathan Walker's path to the NHL is reminiscent of a storybook narrative. Born in England and raised in Australia, Walker has defied all odds to become a talented hockey player in the NHL.  

Walker, 30, is listed at 5'9" and 187 lbs. His name was first heard in St. Louis in the 2019-20 season when he caught the attention of then-former announcer Darren Pang.

Walker's presence was immediately felt on the ice. Over the years, he's bounced back and forth between the AHL and NHL, never playing in a complete season with any NHL team.

Does Nathan Walker deserve a chance for a full-time roster spot in 2024-25?

There are no extreme expectations for Walker. Granted, he was originally a third-round pick of the Washington Capitals in 2014, but his intensity is always noted when he enters the ice.

He's seen his most play in the past three seasons:

2021-22: 30 games, 8 goals, 4 assists, 12 points, 11:32 TOI.
2022-23: 56 games, 2 goals, 8 assists, 10 points, 10:17 TOI.
2023-24: 45 games, 7 goals, 6 assists, 13 points, 10:48 TOI.

Walker isn't a star, nor expected to score 20-plus goals. While it's possible that he will add to his stats as the years go by, his achievements are more likely to revolve around his dedication and tough physical play.

In 2023-24, he ranked sixth on the team with 95 hits, which is exactly what Pang saw in 2019.

The Blues lack physicality and aggressiveness, something that Walker thrives in.

Nobody on the coaching staff or the front office expects Walker to be a superstar; his age has already decided that fate. Nevertheless, his heart is something that younger players such as Jordan Kyrou can learn from.

Perseverance, dedication, and the ability to alter a game's mood are all key points in Walker's play.  

He's a relatively undersized player from a country that doesn't produce hockey players. Yet he finished sixth in total hits, only playing 45 games.

Walker's intensity has proven that he deserves a chance to compete for a full-time role come training camp.

Still under contract for two years with a $1.55 million agreement, Walker has the ability to continue to prove the doubters wrong.

His entire hockey career has been one of development and worth, always outperforming the expectations laid before him.

No one's arguing he takes a position or ice time away from a consistent scorer or younger prospect, but if it comes down to him and an underperforming player, perhaps Walker has earned his chance to win that battle.