2004-05: Walker moved to EHC Basel of Switzerland’s Nationalliga A league and in 37 games posted a meager 2 points (2 G) but 39 PIM. He skated for Switzerland at the 2005 U20 World Junior Championship and had one assist in six games.
2005-06: Walker had an impressive showing at the 2006 U20 World Junior Championship; scoring 2 goals with 2 assists and leading the surprising Swiss team to a tie against the Americans. He outplayed line-mate Julien Sprunger (MIN) as the Swiss nearly reached the medal round. After twice being eligible for the NHL draft without being selected, he was ranked 104th amongst European skaters in Central Scouting’s final rankings. Walker was selected by the Wild in the sixth round (162nd overall) of the 2006 NHL Draft. In Swiss league play, he had 3 goals with 45 PMs seeing limited action in 42 games (including playoffs) for Basel in the A league. He skated in two games for Olten in the B League with no points and 2 penalty minutes.
2006-07: Walker skated in 40 of 44 games for Basel in the Swiss A League as a 20-year-old and scored 4 goals with 4 assists with 16 PMs. Basel finished last in the A League, winning just 13 games. In 12 qualifying matches to avoid relegation Walker scored 4 goals with 1 assists and 12 PMs.
2007-08: Walker had a nondescript third season with Basel in the Swiss A league, finishing with just 6 assists and 22 PMs in 50 games for the club. Basel won four games the entire season and could not avoid relegation to the B league following the season.
2008-09: Walker joined Ambri-Piotta after Basel was relegated to the B League and while his team faired only marginally better (Ambri-Piotta won 13 games and was 11th in the 12-team Swiss A league, averting relegation in the post-season) Walker showed signs of the offensive game he displayed in juniors. In 50 regular season games he was the club’s fourth-leading scorer with 11 goals and 14 assists and was -11 with 36 PMs.
2009-10: Walker was an assistant captain for Ambri-Piotta in his second season with the club. He scored 6 goals with 16 assists and was +1 with 40 PMs. Ambri-Piotta won just 10 games and was forced to avoid relegation in a playoff series. Walker was in contention for a spot with Switzerland’s 2010 Olympic team but was one of the last players cut.
2010-11: Walker, now 24, returned to Ambri-Piotta for a third season. Kevin Constantine, the former head coach for the Wild’s AHL affiliate Houston, took over as coach but Ambri-Piotta could not turn things around. The club won just 13 games and once again faced relegation in the post-season. Walker skated in 41 games and scored 3 goals with 7 assists and led the team with 61 PMs. In 17 post-season games he scored 5 goals with 3 assists and had a team-leading 18 PMs.
Walker is a physical player with an NHL-ready body; he should have no problem handling the rough stuff without wearing down over the course of the season. Drafting hockey players from Switzerland is always a gamble, but Walker’s last two strong showings at the World Juniors was an indication of what he can bring to the table.
However, Walker’s shortcomings are in the offensive zone, as evidenced by his point totals during his seasons playing for SC Bern and EHC Basel. He makes his mark on the ice as a tireless worker and physical player who will hit anything that moves; when he contributes scoring, it’s just an added bonus. The fact that he went through 2 separate NHL drafts before 2006 without being taken could be an indication that he’s a late bloomer, or that his performances at the WJC tournaments were nothing more than flashes in a pan.
Walker is playing once again with Ambri-Piotta and has played two games for the Swiss national team in 2011-12.