Reign defenseman David Walker, who had been partnered with Andrew Martens most of this season, offered some interesting thoughts on his recently-departed mate…
He’s got really good speed from the back end. Especially on the power play, he can pick the puck up from his own zone, skate the length of the ice and get it into the zone instead of making the pass. He can create second chances, third chances on rebounds for us. We’ve capitalized on a lot of times when he does that. His speed backs off a defender. He’s got a really good shot. He makes a conscious effort when he shoots the puck to hit the net. With a good shot like his, you’re either going to get a wrister with a faceoff, a goal or a second rebound with another opportunity to generate more chances. It’s the little things. Sometimes you might not notice them, but guys in the locker room, we all notice the little things he does. He’s a positive guy on the bench and in the dressing room. He takes advantage of using his strength. When it’s 5-on-4 or 5-on-3, you can really notice it.
Is it rare to see an ECHL guy picked up by an AHL team he’s not affiliated with?
I think, especially nowadays with the way the NHL is with the cap, guys are just getting more opportunities. You see you’ve got guys in our league now that have played in the NHL but for salary-cap reasons it’s tougher to find jobs. Guys say, you always want to go to a camp, or you want a contract, but it’s not always the best thing for a player. Sometimes the best thing is to be a free agent. If you are under an (NHL) contract, you’re contracted to one team. If you’re not on a contract, you’re available to any team that wants you. I think that’s paid off for him. Not to say that he wouldn’t have gotten called up to Manchester, but he’s played well up to this point. Another team could use his services, so if you’re a free agent, you relish that fact. Especially the older you get, if you don’t get a legit contract sometimes it’s better to be a free agent. You try to play your best. Hopefully things happen in your favor.
We’re happy to see him get an opportunity. He’s worked hard to get it.