This article will be the last in my series of player profiles, where I’ll look at each player on the Los Angeles Kings and assess how their season went. This piece will focus on Sean Walker.
This was a strong first full NHL season for Walker. He scored five goals and 24 points in 70 games with the Kings, despite having a lower offensive zone start percentage than any defenseman on the team, other than Ben Hutton. Walker’s underlying stats were also quite strong, with a corsi for percentage of 54.8 per cent, as well as an expected goals for percentage of 51.5 per cent (according to NaturalStatTrick.com).
He averaged nearly 19 minutes per game this year, which ranked third amongst Kings defensemen, while also averaging the second-most power play minutes of any defender on the team, as well as over a minute per game on the penalty kill.
Walker is due for a new contract ahead of the 2020-21 season and it’ll be interesting to see what Los Angeles’ plan is for him. He’s still just 25 years old, but it’s probably unlikely that we’ll see him get a long-term deal, simply based on the uncertainty of what the team’s defense group could look like in a couple of years from now, as the result of a deep prospect pool. I think there’s a chance we see a fairly low-money deal in the range of three years.
Similar to what I said about Matt Roy, going forward, I’d like to see Walker try to take on a larger role. Drew Doughty is still heavily relied upon and the Kings now have two right-handed defensemen coming off strong seasons who could attempt to carry a bit of the load. We don’t know if Walker will be capable of a larger role, but it’s certainly worth a shot.
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Here’s today’s poll question (results and discussion will be posted in a future article):
Do you think Sean Walker is part of Los Angeles' long-term plan?